The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) has warned that while the USA's metals tariff will have a limited impact on most international bulk trades, it could have a negative impact on global shipping.
The USA will add a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminium, effective today (March 23, 2018). BIMCO believes that this push towards protectionism could trigger something bigger, having a wider impact on the global shipping industry.
BIMCO's chief shipping analyst, Peter Sand, said: "Free trade provides prosperity and peace. It's a fundamental principle to cherish and safeguard. All trade-restrictive measures are in principle bad for shipping.
"Open economies are all better off from trading, as they make use of their resources in the most optimal way. The result of a trade war is more expensive goods of lower quality and little variety. This goes for all products and commodities."
On March 22, US President Donald Trump made a last-minute decision to exempt the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea from the tariffs, on a temporary basis, while further discussions take place.
"Overall we are seeing more trade-restrictive measures introduced. Some more high profile than others. This is a worrying trend that limits demand for shipping globally. Even worse for shipping could be short-sighted political positions that may have lasting consequences for everyone involved in global industries like shipping if a large-scale trade war emerges," added Sand.