The chief executive of the world’s largest container-shipping company said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s attempts to strong-arm China on trade issues “has only increased [U.S.] imports from China even more.”
> Soren Skou, the chief executive of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, says Chinese exports to the U.S. actually grew 5-10 percent last quarter. Meanwhile, U.S. exports to China fell by 25-30 percent.
> “It’s an ironic development,” Skou told reporters in Copenhagen on Wednesday. “But after Trump has turned up the volume, the U.S. has only increased their imports from China even more.”
Skou offered two reasons for the situation:
> Firstly, the U.S. economy is doing well so consumers there have more money to spend on imports, he said. Secondly, a lot of the really big U.S. companies are hoarding Chinese imports to buy as much as possible before tariffs kick in, he said.
Skou said many of his customers have said they want to import “a lot of goods before the end of the year.”
According to Bloomberg, Maersk handles about a fifth of the world’s oceanic shipping of goods, which means it is able to “gauge changes in global trade flows” — and Skou is not shy about criticizing Trump.
One problem for the president, Skou said, is that unlike state officials in China, Trump does not have the same power to influence corporate decisions:
> “Donald Trump can’t tell Nike, Walmart and The Home Depot that they can’t import from China,” he said. “So they will continue to import and will work on solutions and they may be hit a bit on their margins.”
> “Meanwhile, the Chinese state-controlled companies don’t need many signals from Beijing to lower their imports from the U.S.,” Skou said.