Archive for August, 2012

Made in America

August 30, 2012

Fact, not every American flags is “all-American”.

Some federal lawmakers are pushing for a new law that would require all American flags flown on federal buildings be American-made. Currently the U.S. spends $3.6 million importing American flags, $3.3 million of that from China, according to the Census Bureau. Federal law to date requires that U.S. flags purchased by the federal government contain a minimum of 50% American-made materials.

US Flag Imports by Country

A Senator has introduced legislation that would require federal agencies to purchase only flags made entirely in the U.S. “from articles, materials, or supplies 100% of which are grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States.” The federal measure mirrors a debate currently underway in other states across the country,  and Arizona also requires public schools, from junior high school and up, to fly only U.S.-made flags.

Where was your flag made?

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Storms in Port

August 29, 2012

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and other natural disasters affect infrastructure and physical capital, employment, farm production, energy and other aspects of an economy. Disasters affecting key trade centers, such as coastal areas that host major ports, can impact the global supply chain. The effects may be only short-term, however that depends on how soon affected ports resume operations.

Late last week, a hurricane warning was issued by the National Weather Service stretching from east Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida border which prompted the closing of the port of Miami and Tampa over the weekend. Hurricane Isaac headed up the Gulf Coast, unleashing damaging 80 mile-per-hour winds and causing widespread flooding in New Orleans and other coastal cities. Isaac, upgraded from tropical storm to Category 1 hurricane earlier Tuesday, first touched land in Plaquemines Parish, about 90 miles southeast of New Orleans Tuesday evening before heading back over the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Gulf accounts for about 23% of all U.S. oil production and nearly 7% of its natural gas output. Aside from this production, the region is home to 30% of U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity and 44% of the country’s refining capacity. Oil companies scrambled to remove workers from offshore oil rigs in the Gulf, and many of the nation’s refiners, who turn Gulf Coast crude oil into gasoline, were either shutting down or slowing operations. Marathon Petroleum initiated the shutdown of its 490,000 barrels-per-day refinery in Garyville, Louisiana and Phillips 66 has temporarily shut down its 247,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Belle Chase, Louisiana. Plus, the single largest entry point for crude oil shipments coming into the U.S. — The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) — suspended offloading of oil tankers as well which usually averages between 900,000 and 1 million barrels of oil a day.

Yesterday the bustling port of New Orleans was ordered closed. Barge traffic along the Mississippi River will be affected by the closure and the Coast Guard advised commercial and recreational vessels all along the lower Mississippi and its tributaries to get out of harm’s way.

PIERS sends well wishes of safety and comfort to all those affected by Isaac’s path.

Miami’s Reorganized “Mega” Foreign Trade Zone

August 21, 2012

If the plan wasn’t clear before, it’s crystal clear now! In a move that enhances Miami-Dade County’s status as a center for international trade and commerce, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted Port Miami a reorganized and expanded mega-Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). For a region so geographically tied to major international trade routes, central and southern ports in the state have seen little in the way of distribution center development. This would enhance its status as an international trade and commerce center and make it easier for individual companies to create duty-free warehouses.

The region is geared towards consumption rather than production but with Miami being the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, Florida is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in the volume and value of trade entering the state’s ports. In preparation of the canal’s expansion to be completed in 2014, major infrastructure improvements to ports and rail systems are being made in hopes of attracting shippers looking to reach southeastern states quickly. This includes Miami’s expanded FTZ and the widening and deepening of its channel to capitalize on the larger post-Panamax ships that will bring cargo to and from the United States (as stated in an earlier PIERS blog). This would enhance its status as an international trade and commerce center and make it easier for individual companies to create duty-free warehouses.

In addition to the seaport, the new FTZ-281 encompasses powerful economic engines:

  • Miami International Airport
  • Opa-locka Airport
  • Miami River
  • Doral/Hialeah warehousing areas

Additionally there are more than 100 international consulates, trade offices and bi-national chambers of commerce within the zone. The Walt Disney Co., which announced in June 2012 that a shift of a large amount of inbound volume to the Port of Jacksonville, will begin shipping batches of Asian-made merchandise for the Disney World Resort in Orlando through Port Miami next year when access to the intermodal yard becomes available…to avoid duty and excise tax.

Looking to attract new businesses to your FTZ? Register to speak to one of our solutions experts or visit our booth at the upcoming NAFTZ Conference September 9-12.

NRF Predicts Steady Growth for Retail Container Traffic

August 16, 2012

Despite continued high unemployment and fiscal uncertainty, consumers are spending again….cautiously, but spending.

Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to increase 6.3% in August compared with the same month last year according to the monthly report released this week by the National Retail Federation. U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker (Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Miami, and Houston) handled 1.41 million TEUs in June, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 4.7% from May and 10.7% from June 2011.

The increased consumer spending was evident in a burst of retail earnings reports for the 2nd quarter, which ended in late July. Home Depot said healthy sales of paint, bathroom accessories and kitchen installations helped lift its net income 12% and  Macy’s raised its annual earnings projection last week after reporting a 16% increase in net income in the second quarter. With U.S. retail sales on the rise for the first time in months, it is a sign that consumers could drive faster economic growth in the third quarter, which comprises the three key months of the year when retailers import the bulk of the merchandise they will sell during the holiday season. Growth is expected through the rest of the year but an abundance of ocean capacity still remains, as seen in our latest complimentary Capacity Utilization Report available for download.

Other discoveries from the July report include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.8% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.6% unadjusted YOY.
  • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 0.9% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 1.1% unadjusted YOY.
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 1.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 9.0% unadjusted YOY.
  • General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 1.4% unadjusted YOY.
  • Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 1.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 0.7% unadjusted YOY.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 1.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 8.0% unadjusted YOY.

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

PIERS Capacity Utilization Report Fills a Void in Carrier Supply Data

August 14, 2012

PIERS, The Standard in Trade Intelligence, has issued an exclusive report titled “The PIERS Capacity Utilization Report: Full year, 2011 vs. 2010.” The report is now available for free download.

PIERS capacity data shows that aboard fully cellular vessels, total international container trade volume inched up by just 2.3 percent while net additions to capacity amounted to 8.1 percent. The differential left the bidirectional average load factor depressed by 3.5 percentage points to 62.8 percent in nominal rated capacity terms. The supply/demand imbalance was sufficient to cap the growth of freight rates in the spot market and pose more financial trouble for carriers.

The report further shows that for imports, the inbound container trade market suffered from weak US demand throughout 2011. The volume of trade inched forward by just 1.2 percent while containership capacity was higher by 6.2 percent. The resulting supply and demand gap pushed the 2011 average load factor down to 67.6 percent from 70.9 percent achieved in 2010.

On the export side, the load factor aboard fully cellular containerships serving outbound trade lanes achieved an average of 56.8 percent in 2011, a sharp fall from the 60.3 percent average rate posted in 2010. Overseas demand for US containerized goods increased by 4.1 percent during the year but suppliers added 10.6 percent more slots. Although there was some limited relief in the last quarter of 2011, load factors were depressed for the majority of 2011 as operators were caught with too much supply amid dwindling demand

PIERS dynamic import/export data offers industry analysts, C-suite executives, marketing professionals and those involved in the logistics industry, a unique and deep insight into global capacity utilization statistics and trends. This report’s analysis can be leveraged to ascertain the underlying factors affecting regional waterborne trade worldwide as well as their impact on your current and future business decisions.

Download your exclusive and complimentary copy of the PIERS Capacity Utilization Report: 2011 vs. 2010 to learn more about this market segment.

PIERS Capacity Utilization Report- Social Media Pre-Release

August 8, 2012



PIERS, the Standard in Trade Intelligence, announced today the “PIERS Capacity Utilization Report: Full year, 2011 vs. 2010” has been pre-released exclusively to their social media followers.

Capacity utilization refers to the load factor of matching ocean carrier supply with shipper demand. Efficient matching of supply and demand requires accurate, up-to-date market information. PIERS dynamic import/export data offers industry analysts, C-suite executives, marketing professionals and those involved in the logistics industry, a unique and deep insight into global capacity utilization statistics and trends.

Capacity utilization analysis is a critical factor in determining both long-term contract freight rates and short-term spot rates for fully cellular vessels. PIERS capacity data shows that aboard fully cellular vessels, total international container trade volume inched up by just 2.3 percent while net additions to capacity amounted to 8.1 percent.

Want to know how ocean carriers are reacting to shipper demand volatility? Need to see which regions are seeing the most balanced supply and demand load factor?




Join us on social media for immediate access to download the full report.

Africa’s Break Bulk Cargo

August 7, 2012

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently visiting South Africa this week; this is her second visit since being appointed into the position by President Obama. The visit shines a spotlight on the US-South Africa relations, continuing the commitment to further economic cooperation. China is South Africa’s largest trading partner however; America is by far South Africa’s largest export destination. According to US government statistics, American imports from South Africa reached $9.5 billion in 2011.

Although ocean container trade continues to dominate throughout the industry, the importance of cargo ranging from raw materials to finished heavy machinery cannot be underestimated. Exporting raw materials requires bulk and break bulk vessels. Despite a booming break bulk and heavy-lift market in Africa, transporting project cargo across border choke points continues to seriously challenge cargo movement in many regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

Significant infrastructure investment is required to address the rising global demand for export volumes from South Africa. These are the major opportunities for South Africa’s economic growth in coming years and private sector involvement in rail and port facilities is required to meet the forecasted demand. There are big opportunities for U.S. companies to increase sales in Africa to help build roads, agribusiness, power and alternative energy. Improvements to ports and roads can only help improve Africa’s trade; better roads and storage facilities would reduce crop spoilage, bring more crops to market.

Unable to attend Breakbulk Africa?  PIERS can bring breakbulk data to you! We can deliver the data you need to discover top breakbulk importers and exporters, top carriers, top commodities and more. Contact us today to speak to a sales rep about PIERS breakbulk data at 800.952.3839 or click here.

Optimize Your Supply Chain Utilizing Inland Ports

August 2, 2012

The global movement of ideas, people and goods has grown exponentially! United States exports continue to increase, however we must recognize both sides of the global trade equation as many U.S. companies rely on foreign imports to compete globally. Imported components continue to be critical to American-made finished goods, impacting coastal ports with increased volume and traffic.

Many of these coastal ports may soon be strained to their capacity limits as shipments increase; more ships will arrive with more containers, especially with the 2014 completion of the Panama Canal (as stated in an earlier PIERS blog). Swelling container volumes may create problems as goods seek to reach their final destinations. Many seaports have plans for major infrastructure improvements but congestion will still present challenges to timely, cost-effective distribution of inbound containerized shipments to noncoastal retailers, manufacturers and ultimately consumers.

What is the solution?

Transfer inbound cargo directly from the ocean vessel to railcars, or transport to an inland port and distribute from there. Inland ports, and intermodal distribution centers, are designed to move international shipments more efficiently from coastal ports for distribution throughout the U.S. heartland. This offers a myriad benefits to shippers, given their connectivity to major seaports, which helps U.S. manufacturers and retailers via cost-effective import distribution. With increased transportation costs, supply chain professionals are all about moving freight in a more cost-effective manner.

Bringing goods from coastal ports closer to the customer provides cost advantages in the form of lower labor, real estate rates and emission reduction. Supply chain efficiency will also improve as inland ports reduce congestion and move goods closer to inland population centers through a more cost-effective mode of transportation.

While there are currently a limited number of U.S.-based inland ports, there is potential for more to enter the market as the Panama Canal expansion nears completion date. U.S. intermodal is on the rise; for the first 28 weeks of 2012 intermodal traffic rose 3.6%, carload traffic fell 2.6% in the same period as reported by the JOC last month.

To learn more about how your company’s supply chain can benefit from utilizing inland ports register for the JOC’s Inland Port Logistics Conference September 5-6.

PIERS can deliver the intelligence that you need! We have several solutions to assist in analyzing the global supply chain and understand the movement of goods. Contact us today to have a PIERS Data Solutions Expert contact you to provide more information or schedule a product demonstration.

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