Tariffs fail to dent demand as America's consumers buy foreign
The strength of the American economy offset the impact of tariffs in October, with U.S. seaborne imports having surged 11.9% higher on a year earlier. That was the fastest rate of growth since March 2014 and was the result of a 16.1% surge in imports from China despite the imposition of 10% tariffs on $200 billion of products in late September. Economic growth was a major mitigating factor and can be seen in a 27.1% jump in imports from Vietnam and 25.8% from South Korea.
Consumer products were the main driver of growth with imports of furniture up 14.7% and apparel by 19.7%. Industrial import demand also remained strong with capital goods rising 8.1% and steel and aluminum having climbed 10.8% despite wide-ranging duties applied earlier in the year. The prospect of higher duties on Chinese imports from January and consumer sentiment at an 18-year high will do little to temper import demand in the rest of the year. Full year import growth of 5.7% looks achievable.