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US trade war could hurt nation's airport, toll roads, ports: Fitch
Date:2018-07-13 Readers:
FITCH Ratings has warned that a trade war between the United States and some of its major trading partners would over time weaken growth for US airports, toll roads and ports if it slows the economy or leads to a recession.

Concern has been mounting among major credit rating agencies that US tariffs and retaliatory measures could harm state and local economies that rely on international trade.

Fitch cited in its latest report potential auto tariffs as a concern for the bond-financed US transportation sector, where stable operations are expected for the remainder of this year, reported Reuters.

"Were auto tariffs to significantly raise the cost of purchasing an automobile, they could act as a sort of tax on motorists that would increase the costs of auto transportation and in turn reduce demand," Fitch analyst Scott Monroe said in a statement.

Fitch said factors such as broad-based economic growth, low unemployment and reasonable gas prices would counteract tariffs.

The trade situation has not yet hurt US ports, however, facilities with higher dependence on Asian trade may feel the impact when tariffs hit, according to Fitch.

"Investors are showing increasing interest in terminal assets as they seek steady cash flows in infrastructure assets," said Fitch analyst Emma Griffith.

As for airports, air cargo is a small part of their operations but a trade war could worry facilities that handle large international shipments, said Fitch analyst Seth Lehman. "It would take a long time for a trade issue to filter into the airport sector."

Ahead of a visit to China on city business, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel raised concerns about the impact of a trade war on O'Hare International Airport, which he said handles 29 per cent of China's air cargo to the United States.
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