Posts Tagged ‘TEUs’

U.S. Containerized Imports Drop 7% in March

May 22, 2013

U.S. containerized imports experienced a 7% year-over-year drop in March 2013, according to recent figures from PIERS. Total U.S. containerized imports fell to 1.26 million TEUs, the first month with a volume below 1.3 million TEUs since February 2012.

US Containerized Imports - March 2013

“Box imports fell markedly in March mainly because the regular 2-week closing of Chinese factories on Lunar New Year festivities was late compared to 2012, inducing tough year-over-year comparisons. This is evidenced by a sharp volume contraction of 18% YoY from China,” said, PIERS/JOC economist Mario Moreno.

Imports fell in March versus February 2013 by 11.2%, which is abnormal for this time of year. February 2013 had seen a year-over-year jump of 20%.

The largest declines among the top 25 imported goods were in computers, down 24%; lamps and parts, down 20%; and toys, down 19%, all compared to March 2012. Leading the gains were fruits, jumping 20% versus March 2012; non-alcoholic beverages and bananas, both up 11%; and still wines, up 10%.

Among the top 25 source countries, shipments from Hong Kong decreased the most in March, by 26.5% year-over-year to 20,876 TEUs. Mainland China followed with an 18% year-over-year drop to 473,530 TEUs, while Taiwan’s volume fell 17% to 34,550. Of the largest increases, U.S. imports from Costa Rica jumped 23% to 17,805 TEUs. Shipments from Guatemala totaled 26,591 TEUs in the month, up 21.5%. Imports from the Netherlands saw growth of 21.3% in March to 24,102 TEUs.

For more information about how PIERS Trade Intelligence can help you track U.S. imports & exports for any commodity or region visit


Economists Cautiously Optimistic Over U.S. Import & Export Growth Forecast

April 16, 2013

Are we seeing enough economic recovery this spring to support growth in volumes of U.S. containerized imports and exports? Economists are seeing some hope, especially in the U.S., but the spring is still looking pretty chilly on a global scale. In the U.S., housing starts and employment are up, but much of southern Europe is mired in recession and growth in emerging Asian markets is slowing.

On the whole, a global recovery is under way, but there are plenty of risks that could cause growth to sputter, especially if it encounters another “black swan” event in the form of an unpredictable catastrophe such as the tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011.

Any recovery in Europe could be upset by eruption of a fiscal crisis in southern Europe. “Optimism has started to take hold in recent months, but the economic hangover is still very much with us,” said Nick Kounis, head of macroeconomic research for ABN Amro Bank. Yet trade volumes are likely to get stronger this year and even stronger by the second half of 2014 when the global recovery takes hold. Global trade volume, which increased 3% in 2012, is likely to grow 3.3% this year and 3.9% in 2014, Kounis said.

US Containerized Exports

Source: PIERS/JOC Container Shipping Outlook, March 2013

But persistent global economic clouds are causing some economists to cut their forecast of U.S. trade growth. In March PIERS/The Journal of Commerce, economist Mario Moreno reduced his forecast for the growth of U.S. containerized exports this year to 2%, to a total of 12.1 million TEUs, compared with his previous forecast of 4.1%, “in light of the fourth quarter’s weak performance, the general deceleration of volume growth during 2012, and less optimistic economic forecasts across the globe.”

Moreno also cut his forecast for 2014 export growth to 3.4% from the 4.4% rate he estimated in December. “While fiscal uncertainty in the U.S. has been largely contained, in Europe, questions remain on how solid the commitment to austerity is, especially in Italy, where anti-austerity candidates made progress in the last election,” he said. “Such an outcome makes already nervous investors less willing to commit capital to projects and could delay the economic recovery across the European continent.”

Us Containerized Imports

Source: PIERS/JOC Container Shipping Outlook, March 2013

Moreno expects import volumes to grow 2.6% in 2013 to a total of 17.6 million TEUs, compared with just 1.5% in 2012. But he remains cautious in view of the 3.9% dip in total U.S. import volumes in the final quarter of 2012, which capped a disappointing 2012 for U.S. inbound container trade. Annual containerized import traffic expanded just 1.5% during the year, decelerating from the 2.7% pace set in 2011 and a far cry from the 14.5% increase posted in 2010.

He said the 2012 performance was significantly below the two-year moving average of 10.4%, which indicates further sluggishness going forward. Although the fourth quarter 2012 performance can be partially attributed to Hurricane Sandy and labor disputes at U.S. ports, he said the slowdown was primarily due to worsening U.S. economic conditions, particularly fiscal uncertainty and its impact on private investment, which was keeping a tight lid on containerized import growth. “I do not see these conditions appreciably improving during 2013 and am therefore compelled to lower our projection to 2.6% growth,” Moreno said.

For more information about PIERS trade intelligence visit or to learn more about The Journal of Commerce’s Container Shipping Outlook visit

Decrease in China’s Toy Market Share

November 29, 2012

China may be considered the workshop of the world; with the combination of a large manufacturing base, relatively low labor costs and numerous support policies have made China an extremely attractive option for international business. With 1.3 billion people, cheap labor in China seemed unlimited at a time.

US Toy Imports Q3 2012

Despite its rapid growth in recent decades, many of the advantages that have fueled the expansion of Chinese manufacturing are beginning to deteriorate. Labor and raw material costs in China have seen a steady increase and many commodity-type goods can no longer be competitively sourced from China, such as toys. With Chinese wages rising at about 17% per year and the value of the Yuan continuing to increase, the gap between U.S. and Chinese wages is narrowing rapidly; increasing costs even before inventory and shipping costs are considered.

In a recent article in The Journal of Commerce, PIERS data showed China’s toy imports to the U.S. declined from an 82.4% market share in 2011, to 81.2% in 2012, while the next largest importer, Hong Kong experienced similar decline with its market share slipping to 6.5% from 6.9% a year earlier.

Meanwhile it seems China and Hong Kong’s decline in market share has been spread across a number of much smaller toy exporters.  The next largest source of toy imports after China and Hong Kong is Vietnam, which increased its market share position by .2% from 1.3% to 1.5%, which translates to 765 TEUs. Similarly, Germany increased their market share by .4% to 1.1% and showed the most significant increase in terms of import volume with an increase of 1,315 TEUs over the same period last year.

PIERS/JOC, Economist, Mario Moreno, offers a possible explanation for the recent shift in production, “Labor supply in labor-intensive industries is very tight, which has prompted many owners to move their (Chinese) factories inland, but even then they are still struggling to find enough workers for their export production activities. Many owners have relocated their shops to Vietnam in order to lessen their labor supply problems in China.”

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The End Zone

October 23, 2012

Football is very unique to American culture…if baseball is our nation’s pastime then football is certainly our passion!

As in England, where the sport first developed, early football in the United States was relatively disorganized and quite violent. Different towns and schools played by their own sets of rules; they all involved two sides of a dozen or more men on foot rather than horseback—hence the sport’s name—attempting to drive the ball toward goals at opposite ends of the field. With the rising popularity of interscholastic competition during the second half of the nineteenth century, football gradually became the formalized sport that we all love today.

Looking to keep track of a specific commodity? PIERS products give you a global picture of a commodity and the companies trading it. Analyze commodity growth trends, leading producers, source suppliers and more! Click here to register for a free demo.

Exceeding 800 Million TEUs by 2017?

September 6, 2012

Overcapacity issues surfaced as new capacity increased; too much capacity in 2010 resulted in oversupply in 2011. The shipping industry faced a series of financial difficulties created by stagnation in market growth and a dramatic increase in capacity – in both number of vessels and containers made available in the market.

Inbound nominal capacity and demand aboard fully cellular vessels deployed to US trade lanes, 1992-2011.

Carriers placed a significant amount of new orders in 2008 for larger ships, which are expected to enter the world’s fleet by the end of 2012 and into 2013. Shipyards have been operating at a pace designed to service global demand that has simply failed to materialize; the hefty imbalance between supply and demand left carriers with surplus tonnage (as detailed in the PIERS Capacity Utilization Report 2011). Current industry trends show carrier accepting more of an active role in the management of their container assets, reviewing strategies to manage the fleet of empty containers and decreasing the amount of time a container sits idle or travels to be repositioned.

While threats to global economic recovery still exist with the Eurozone crisis and US debt negotiations, the consensus is that global economic growth will be sustained for several years to come. Drewry Maritime Research released their annual port sector report; forecasting a 6% increase in international container volume and global port throughput growing to 800 million TEUs in 2017 from 588 million TEUs in 2011. China’s share of container port throughput grew from 19% in 2002 to 30% in 2011. They report global marine terminals’ share of throughput grew from 58% in 2002 to 76% in 2011. They also warned that although port congestion may be a concern of today, growth in demand is expected to outstrip growth in port capacity.

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.

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.

U.S. Container Imports Up 3.2% in June

July 31, 2012

As predicted by PIERS/JOC Economist Mario Moreno, U.S. container imports rose 3.2% in June; led by steady growth in furniture and auto parts, which contributed to an overall increase of 2.4% through the first half of 2012, according to data from PIERS.

This is in line with Moreno’s forecast of 4.1% full-year growth. Total U.S. imports in Q2, up 2.9%, and imports from Asia, up 2.7%, exceeded forecasts by 0.4% and 2.4% respectively. “Growth was modest at best,” Moreno said. “Trade with China was helped by declining import prices as the Renminbi began to lose value against the dollar. The outlook for containerized trade in the second half of the year continues to show downside risks as unemployment is stuck at +8%, and fiscal woes in Europe could escalate even more.”

Furniture continued to lead import volumes, up 7% in Q2, despite flat home sales year to date, Moreno noted. He cautioned that this momentum will not last if hiring remains stalled. However, manufacturers increased auto production, driving auto parts imports up 19%.

On the downside, demand for imported footwear continued the downtrend due to rising import prices and poor demand outlook. Footwear imports declined 18%.

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

Want to learn more about the details behind these container imports? PIERS solutions provide the support needed to accurately track vital trade intelligence around the world. Contact us today to have a PIERS solutions expert show you more.

Wind Powered Cargo Ships?

July 10, 2012

Eco-friendly shipping is on the rise! Development is underway to design the modern world’s first 100% fossil fuel free sailing cargo ships. A design concept for a cargo ship has been created and currently a full-scale demonstration vessel has already been started. With rising fossil fuel costs and the global challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this project is set to change the shipping industry by providing efficient and affordable low-carbon shipping. 60% of the power will come from wind and the rest from engines that are powered by waste derived bio-gas. If it proves successful, the new B9 cargo ship could usher in a new era of fossil fuel–free technology.

Diane Gilpin, Director of B9 Shipping, says: “We are designing B9 Ships holistically as super-efficient new builds transferring technology from offshore yacht racing combined with the most advanced commercial naval architecture. We’re combining proven technologies in a novel way to develop ‘ready-to-go’ future-proof and 100% fossil fuel free ships.”

During the recent financial crisis, container ships began slow steaming (SS) and super slow steaming (SSS) on lines operating vessels on long routes at several knots below top speed in order to save on fuel. Another trend is megaships which allows for an increased number of TEUs per ship at reduced costs and less emissions. The next logical ship is a fossil-fuel free vessel.

From conceptual to environmentally safe seas in the near future!

U.S. Container Imports Up 7.3% in March

May 1, 2012

Driven by a surge in furniture and auto parts shipments to the U.S., containerized imports in March rose 7.3% over 2011. This increase came on the heels of a 5.9% decline in February.  On a month-to-month basis, overall imports climbed 15.2% in March, following a contraction of 19% in February.

“Latest TEU data supports my view of very modest imports growth through the second half of the year,” said Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. “Although the U.S. economy is showing signs of deceleration, it will likely be momentary as the FED has made it clear it is prepared to do more if conditions worsen. Imports growth should regain speed in the second half of the year.”

Leading the gains were furniture, up 15%, empty containers & drums, up 178% and auto parts, up 15%.  Sales of existing homes declined for two consecutive months through March, which is a concern for the short-term imports outlook of furniture and other home goods. Solid gains were also seen in miscellaneous plastic products (+17%), bananas (+12%), and miscellaneous metal ware (+18%). On the downside, miscellaneous fruits lost 17% of TEU volume, while imports of footwear and menswear were down by 9% and 10%, respectively.

On a regional level, imports from Northeast Asia rose by the most, up 11%. North Europe followed, advancing 6%, while shipments from the Mediterranean surged 12%. Leading the losses were the Indian Subcontinent and East Coast South America, down 7% and 8% respectively.

On a country level, shipments from China showed the most gains, up 13%. This sharp jump in shipments from China is mostly owed to an easier year-over-year comparison with March 2011 base as the 2012 Lunar New Year came early. Vietnam followed with a remarkable gain of 32%, while imports from Germany jumped 11%. Leading the losses, shipments from Brazil lost 16% TEU volume in the month.

Overall U.S. containerized imports advanced 2% in Q1 year-over-year, to a total of 4,032,857 TEUs. This growth compares favorably to Moreno’s forecast of 1.5% as presented in the March 2012 issue of JOC Container Shipping Outlook.

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U.S. Containerized Exports Jump 9.6% in February

April 19, 2012

After 1.9% growth in January, U.S. containerized exports leapt forward again in February, rising 9.6% year-over-year and 4% from the previous month. The total February volume was 1,014,176 TEUs, led by strong gains in paper and paperboard, building materials and refrigerated foods, and boosted by the depreciation of the U.S. dollar.

U.S. Containerized Export Volume in TEUs - February 2012

In terms of TEUs, paper and paperboard showed the greatest gains, but building materials grew by 280% over January, and frozen fish jumped 157%. Fabrics (including raw cotton) continue to decline, down 15% or 6,375 TEUs.

“The foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar against a broad basket of currencies was down on January 31 by 2% over the value of December 30, 2011,” said Mario O. Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. “Manufacturing activity in China has been in contraction for four consecutive months, yet U.S. exports of key raw materials such as paper & paper board and raw cotton increased sharply, suggesting factory output will rebound soon.”

Northeast Asia held its position as the top destination for U.S. containerized exports, showing 12% Y-o-Y growth to 459,713 TEUs, which represents 45.3% of total export volume. Exports to the Caribbean climbed an impressive 49% and shipments to North Europe surprised with a rebound of 19%. Mediterranean volumes, however, fell 18%.

To learn more about the details behind each of these shipments visit

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