Archive for June, 2012

A Global Commitment to Sustainability

June 28, 2012

Shipping and transportation make up a large and complex part of most supply chains; maritime transport is essential to the world’s economy as the majority of the world’s trade is carried by sea. With issues of global climate change becoming more prevalent, transportation as a whole holds the dubious honor of being the fastest growing source of emissions – carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

A company’s carbon footprint tracks back to transport and logistics activity. International marine vessels are far more efficient than other forms of transport but they also operate on diesel fuel which creates emissions that lead to environmental issues. As reported last month by the JOC, global freight transportation and distribution systems account for more than 3 billion metric tons of carbon emissions each year. That’s equal to more than 700 coal plants or the combined pollution output of Canada, Germany, Japan and Mexico. By 2035, emissions from freight in the U.S. are expected to rise 74 percent, and China is expected to increase its use of freight transportation fuels by 320 percent in the same period.

We need to ensure that maritime operations are efficient, safe and environmentally friendly in the carriage of global trade. Sustainability is the latest trend, encompassing social and business standards along with the environmental pollution prevention. Such as:

  • improved ships’ ballast water management methods
  • creation of hybrid and compressed natural gas fleets
  • prevention of air pollution from ships
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • recycling of old ships

Ensure your businesses carbon footprint is doing its part by using PIERS data to determine the most efficient trade route to meet your business needs


Celebrate the Day of the Seafarer

June 25, 2012

PIERS acknowledges the “Day of the Seafarer”! We celebrate the selfless services of the one and a quarter million seafarers who work over the horizon, literally. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) believes that the hugely positive work of seafarers on the daily lives of ordinary people should be publically recognized today with gratitude for the work they do. The jobs they do are absolutely vital and without them, world trade, industrial growth and modern life as we know it today, would not be possible. 

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon delivered a special message acknowledging contributions that seafarers have made in significantly improving the shipping industry’s environmental performance along with the courage displayed in the face of piracy threats.

“On this Day of the Seafarer, let us celebrate the brave women and men, from master to deck hand, from sandy shores to the deepest ocean blue, from all corners of the world, who make it possible for the shipping industry to underpin our global economy and foster greater progress for all.”

This year’s celebration is not just thinking about this maritime workforce, the IMO is asking everyone to choose one object that came by sea which they just could not live without.

Complete this sentence: I could not live without _______ , it came by sea!

Who Tops This Year’s JOC Top 100 Importers & Exporters Lists?

June 22, 2012

2011 was extraordinary in terms of natural catastrophes and disasters – all of which cause a bit of global turbulence in the trade industry. The economic burden doesn’t only affect  where the disaster occurred but also ripples through the world economy by affecting global trade volume. A single natural disaster can cause a domino effect that can cripple supply chains as was evident in the auto parts industry after the Japan earthquake last March. These crises “coupled with a soft post-recession consumer market and mixed macroeconomic environment, growth undoubtedly was restrained,” stated the Journal of Commerce in the “Coming Full Cycle”.

Top 5 U.S. Importers 2011 

Top 5 U.S. Exporters 2011 

Retail sales are the main driver of containerized imports, which JOC/PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno expects to rise at a slower pace than previously forecasted.  His revised forecast which was published earlier this week calls for 4.1% growth on U.S. imports, down from 4.5% previously and 2.3% growth for exports which was reduced from 3.5%.  For 2011, U.S. imports increased 3% in 2011 over 2010 while U.S. exports increased 6% year-over-year. 

Want to monitor the top importers and exporters in your industry? PIERS data can help. To learn more visit PIERS or call 973-766-8660. 

*The JOC’s Annual Top 100 Importers and Exporters ranking is based on data from PIERS, a JOC sister company, and other industry sources.


Foreign-Trade Zones: A Quiet Source of Economic Stimulus

June 19, 2012

Foreign-Trade Zones allow producers in the United States to bring in foreign materials for processing into the United States at zero or reduced tariff duties. These zones, which include facilities such as the Virginia Port Authority and Nissan’s two manufacturing facilities in Tennessee, help offset customs advantages available to overseas producers who compete with domestic industry.

In a recent article in The Tennessean, Daniel Griswold, the President of the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, argued that Foreign-Trade Zones are a key contributor to the recovery in the automotive industry. They are also helpful to any industry that faces the problem of “inverted tariffs,” where the tariffs on parts needed to manufacture and assemble a final product are significantly higher than the tariffs charged to import an already-finished product. This creates an unintended incentive for manufacturers to locate production offshore, rather than in the U.S.

Griswold noted, “In 2010, a total of 2,400 companies and 320,000 American workers used the FTZ program to manufacture, process and distribute a wide range of products, including clothing, electronics, refined petroleum, pharmaceuticals – and motor vehicles.”

In terms of the auto industry, the FTZ program puts U.S. auto plants on an equal footing with foreign producers. If a finished automobile enters U.S. commerce, the tariff is 2.5%, but if the finished product is exported for sale abroad, no tariff is due. This acts as a stimulus to U.S. auto exports.

And these results aren’t limited to the auto industry. In the blog Griswold spearheads on, he notes how Tootsie Roll Industries’ participation in the FTZ program helps ensure that U.S. workers will continue to produce its sweet treats, because of the access they receive to sugar at world market prices.

 In 2011, Samsung announced a $3.6 billion investment in its Samsung Austin Semiconductor (SAS) plant. SAS will increase the capacity of its 12-inch semiconductor fabrication facility in the city, creating up to 500 permanent jobs. One of the reasons cited for the investment? Foreign-Trade Zones.

Adding a Foreign-Trade Zone is a great way for a city/state to increase its manufacturing presence. NIC Americas, Inc. was the first tenant of the Foreign Trade Zone in Hilo, Hawaii. NIC Americas manufactures a device that uses electrical arcing to destroy used needles from health care facilities. The company was Hilo’s first significant new manufacturing facility in recent times.

A recent proposal by The Port of Miami would expand the number of Foreign-Trade Zones in Miami-Dade County. The plan will benefit the port since, as a license holder, the port can charge businesses thousands of dollars to establish duty-free subzones at individual company facilities.

PIERS offers a number of solutions that benefit Foreign Trade Zones and their tenants.  For more information about the solution that’s right for you register for a free demo or visit our booth at the NAFTZ’s Annual Conference September 9-12.

Touch His Sole for Father’s Day

June 15, 2012


With Father’s Day on Sunday, you might still be contemplating what to get the men you are honoring this Holiday. You’ve surprised him with everything from power tools to golf clubs; you’re drawing a blank for this year’s gift…with time running out quickly! (eek) Start with asking yourself these two questions:

  1. Is Dad’s wardrobe stuck in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s? 
  2. Do leisure suits, blue suede shoes, college team t-shirts with holes  and PONY sneakers line Dad’s closet?                  

If you answered  ‘yes’ to either of these questions, then this is the year to spruce up Dad’s attire…while stimulating the U.S. economy!

As mentioned in our blog from Monday, leading the losses last quarter were footwear, down 20%, and menswear, down 19%. Year-over-year U.S. containerized imports from Asia declined 1.6% in April, with shipments from China at the forefront, down 3%, due to reduced footwear and apparel shipments. “It appears retailers are keeping inventories of footwear and apparel ultra-lean as the economy loses momentum and employers reduce hiring,” said Journal of Commerce Economist, Mario O. Moreno. If inflation falls further later this year, we may see some growth in retail sales but as long as high unemployment and sluggish wage growth dampen confidence, spending will remain tight.

Happy Father’s Day from PIERS, enjoy the weekend!

Declining Crude Oil Prices and Its Impact on the U.S. Economy

June 12, 2012

On June 5, 2012, the government reduced its forecast for average gas prices to $3.79 per gallon for the summer driving season, down 16-cents from the initial estimate of $3.95. The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) revised forecast is promising news for the economy; lower gasoline prices will allow many drivers to save money every time they fill up, encouraging more drivers to take their cars on the road this summer.

Part of the reason oil prices have declined during the past month is sluggishness in the global economy, highlighted by uncertainty in the Eurozone and a disappointing U.S. jobs report at the end of May.

The national average for gas is now $3.76 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That’s 20-cents less than a year ago. The EIA says that gasoline prices should average $3.71 per gallon for all of 2012, down 10 cents from April’s estimate. The EIA’s forecast for next year is $3.67 per gallon.

Crude oil prices directly affect the cost of gasoline, home heating oil, manufacturing and electric power generation. How much? According to the EIA, 96% of transportation relies on oil, 43% of industrial product, 21% of residential and commercial, and (only) 3% of electric power. However, if oil prices rise, then so does the price of natural gas, which is used to fuel 14% of electric power generation, 73% of residential and commercial, and 39% of industrial production. (Source: EIA, U.S. Primary Energy Consumption by Source and Sector, 2004)


Both consumers and businesses are likely to change their behavior as energy prices change. As we welcome the price relief at the pump, we must remember that any increases in crude oil prices can affect the U.S. economy in numerous ways:

  • Spending Decrease – When the prices of petroleum products increase, consumers have less disposable income to spend on other goods and services. The extra amounts that would have been spent on non-oil-derived products go to foreign and domestic oil producers.
  • Reduced Economic Output – Oil is also a vital input for the production of a wide range of goods and services and it is used for transportation in businesses of all types. Higher oil prices thus increase the cost of inputs; if the cost increases cannot be passed on to consumers, economic inputs such as labor and capital stock may be reallocated. Higher oil prices can cause worker layoffs and the idling of plants, reducing economic output in the short term. 
  • Increased Energy Prices – Higher oil prices cause, to varying degrees, increases in other energy prices. Depending on the ability to substitute other energy sources for petroleum, the price increases can be large and can cause macroeconomic effects similar to the effects of oil price increases.

PIERS data can reveal the details behind every waterborne shipment of crude oil into the U.S. in addition to details on exports of oil derivatives like gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel.  To receive a FREE sample of our data register for our Crude Oil Import Report!

U.S. Importers Keeping Inventory Lean, Containerized Shipments Down 2% in April

June 11, 2012

U.S. containerized imports dropped 2% in April year-over-year, as retailers responded to a slowing economy by keeping inventories lean, reported Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. The decline followed a 7.3% Y-o-Y gain in March due, in part, to an early Lunar New Year in China.

“Latest import data reinforces the interpretation of a marked slowdown in the economy, induced by a lack of significant job growth. It is only fair to ask, what will the Fed do next?” Moreno said. His comments reflect his continued expectation that growth in imports will regain speed in the second half of the year, with the help of Federal Reserve intervention. Overall U.S. containerized imports were up 1% in the first four months of the year.

U.S. Containerized Imports April 2012


Leading the losses in April were footwear and miscellaneous fruits, each down 20%; menswear, down 19%; women’s and infant wear, down 11%; miscellaneous apparel, down 11%; auto tires, down 6%; and computer-related products, down 8%.  

Sales of existing homes are paddling along so far this year, which contributed to a slight uptick in furniture imports. In the months ahead, however, softness in the pace of home sales will constrain growth in furniture and home goods imports, Moreno said. Furniture is the single largest containerized import commodity.

Year-over-year U.S. containerized imports from Asia declined 1.6% in April, with shipments from China at the forefront, down 3%, due to reduced footwear, furniture and toy shipments. Chile followed with a surprising drop of 25%, while imports from Hong Kong and Belgium fell 11% and 17%, respectively. Leading the gains were Japan, up 17%, and Vietnam, up 14%.

More of Moreno’s trade and economic analysis can be found in his blog or by following him on Twitter @MarioMoreno_JoC

For FREE, instant access to details on U.S. import shipments, register online for PIERS TI Basic.

Los Angeles’ Terminal Island Added to 2012 List of U.S.’s Most Endangered Historic Places

June 9, 2012


On Wednesday June 6, 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the Port of Los Angeles’ Terminal Island made its way onto the list.


Terminal Island is an island of the Pacific Ocean located in Los Angeles County, between Los Angeles Harbor and Long Beach Harbor. Terminal Island was once inhabited by first and second-generation Japanese prior to WWII. It is remembered as a distinct Japanese fishing village with its own culture and lifestyle, including a unique dialect that blended both Japanese and English.

Following President Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing Executive Order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, the first major Los Angeles relocation of Japanese and Japanese Americans occurred at Terminal Island. About 3,000 residents lived in the Japanese fishing community on Terminal Island, also called East San Pedro or Fish Harbor. After Pearl Harbor, many male Japanese residents were detained by the FBI and all Japanese-owned fishing boats impounded. The U.S. Navy began condemnation proceedings to remove all residents – mostly Japanese – from areas near naval bases on Terminal Island. They were een as a national threat; its residents were forcibly removed and imprisoned at the internment camp Manzanar.

In recent years, the Port of Los Angeles has neglected historic buildings at Terminal Island – a pattern that plagues industrial sites around the country. A plan introduced in 2011 calls for the demolition of more structures and fails to endorse the idea of adaptive reuse. Local preservationists fear this plan could be the model for an even larger plan that would permit more destruction. They are hoping to protect historic structures at one of the nation’s busiest ports, and promote the revitalization of vacant buildings slated for demolition.

Trade Data Just Got Better. Access Details on U.S. Imports for Free

June 5, 2012

 PIERS is pleased to announce the release of a free version of our popular PIERS TI® solution. We believe that the global community of professionals involved in international trade will benefit from improved transparency. Lowering the access barriers to trade data, PIERS TI Basic provides direct, immediate access to U.S. import trade transactions.

 Upon registering, users can immediately search by commodity and country of origin with up to 3-months of U.S. import data, free of charge. Not for a limited-time and not a trial offer; free all of the time, anytime. That’s the PIERS difference.

PIERS TI customers use our data to:

      • Generate sales leads
      • Obtain competitive intelligence
      • Identify buyers & suppliers
      • Conduct market research
      • Monitor contractual compliance

Create your account now for immediate access and get started today! 

For more advanced search capabilities including access to U.S. export transactions and historical data, click here to find the plan that fits your needs.

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