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Georgia ports chief warns Chinese tariffs could cost state millions

Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch

PortandTerminal.com, June 25, 2019

The White House is currently considering whether to add ship-to-shore cranes to its fourth batch of Chinese tariffs.

WASHINGTON  — Griff Lynch, Executive Director at Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is warning that the Trump administration’s latest round of proposed Chinese tariffs could cost the state’s ports almost $18 million.

The White House is currently considering whether to add ship-to-shore cranes to its fourth batch of Chinese tariffs. The GPA has already ordered six of the cranes, costing $70 million.

“There is no domestic source for these cranes and, indeed, there is no manufacturing facility for these cranes except in China.” 

U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer

Photo: Port of Savannah

Executive Director Griff Lynch said instituting a 25 percent tariff could have a “substantially negative impact” on work to expand the Savannah harbor, the state’s top economic development project.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (Photo PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)

“It would also hinder our plans for additional future purchases of these large, purpose-built cranes required for our expanding operations,” he wrote in a recent letter to U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer. “There is no domestic source for these cranes and, indeed, there is no manufacturing facility for these cranes except in China.” 

I believe that there is one challenge on the current scene that is substantially more difficult than those faced in the past, and that is China. The sheer scale of their coordinated efforts to develop their economy, to subsidize, to create national champions, to force technology transfer, and to distort markets in China and throughout the world is a threat to the world trading system that is unprecedented.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (September 18, 2017)

Lynch’s letter, which also included a request for Lighthizer to exempt port yard equipment from any future tariff discussions, was quickly followed up by Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson. 

The Republicans said Friday that removing the prospect of tariffs on ship-to-shore cranes “would allow our ports to continue with important infrastructure upgrades and will prevent major disruptions to trade in the southeastern United States.”

Georgia isn’t the only port state that’s asking for relief from the proposed tariffs. South Carolina recently raised similar warnings about levying duties on cranes – the state’s ports authority said a 25 percent tariff could cost them some $36 million, according to The Charleston Post and Courier.

MassPort’s Lisa Weiland has also sounded the alarm.

Lisa Weiland, Massport Port Director

Massport officials are also pushing hard to keep the large new container cranes they plan to buy off of the list of tariffs on Chinese imports. 

“These cranes are only manufactured in China, and there are no alternatives,” Lisa Wieland, Massport Port Director, told the Boston Herald.

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