Posts Tagged ‘U.S. imports’

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.”

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.


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.

Acrylic Acid: From Diapers to Paint

October 2, 2012

After an abnormal chemical reaction, a fire broke out at Nippon Shokubai Co.’s plant in Japan. An acrylic acid storage residue tank exploded around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, the fire later spread to another acrylic acid tank and a toluene tank. The plant produces about 20% of the world’s SAP and 10% of global output of acrylic acid. 

Nippon Shokubai Co., LTD in Japan

The monomer of poly (PAA, CAS number 9003-1-04) is acrylic acid; a high volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products.  Used to make highly water-absorbent resins, one of the main applications is in the manufacturing of super-absorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid – mainly disposable diapers. A super-absorbent polyacrylic acid (SAP) was patented in 1966 by Gene Harper of Dow Chemical and Carlyle Harmon of Johnson & Johnson; it was first used in diapers in 1982. Nippon Shokubai is one of the world’s biggest makers of acrylic acid, the main ingredient of a resin called SAP.

Polyacrylic acid is found in a wide variety of household and personal care products:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mascara
  • Aftershave
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair-styling products (gels, dyes, sprays)
  • Moisturizer
  • Pet shampoo
  • Metal polish

PIERS can deliver the intelligence that you need! Looking to keep track of a specific commodity? PIERS solutions 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.


To the Point!

September 20, 2012

It can create a 70 mile long line, write an average of 45,000 words, erase errors and beat out an infinite number of drum solos…it is called the “pencil”.

Most of us have picked up, used and lost a pencil (more than a few times) without even a second thought. Pencils are simply…common. Can you believe the “modern” pencil was once a controversial addition to the classroom? Some American school teachers believed that the 1858 invention of pencils with attached erasers would encourage student carelessness. The pencil clearly prevailed and is now among the world’s most popular tools for writing and drawing!

Today, the demand and market for pencils is much more lucrative than one would think; about $3.6 billion worth of pencils are sold just within the U.S. each year. Despite the common misconception that pencils are a dying business, pencil consumption generally grows globally at or around the rate of population growth.

The problem began in the early 1990s when Chinese manufacturers entered the market with low-priced pencils. The pencil industry fought back, arguing that the Chinese were dumping pencils on the U.S. market at below cost and lobbying Washington for protection.  When merchandise is sold at a price below that for which it sells in its own country, the merchandise is dumped in a foreign market. The lower priced imports, more competitive than their domestic counterparts, result in dilapidated domestic industries. Due to its detrimental effects on domestic business and production, dumping is a major aspect of unfair trading practice in trade relations.

During late 1994 the Department of Commerce imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of pencils from China; the rate varied over the years but has remained at 114.9% since 2003. These anti-dumping duties have assisted the U.S. pencil manufacturers from being totally devastated by Chinese imports, even though many U.S. pencil producers have had to become involved in Chinese production or import pencil supplies themselves to remain competitive within the market. Some Chinese companies attempt to avoid these dumping duties through trans-shipment via a third country (Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam) not subject to the duties and/or by purposely mislabeling the country of origin for the pencils.

Both are illegal practices under international trade rules and can be difficult to detect. A Federal District Court in Washington, DC unsealed a False Claims Act case against major retailers accused of transshipping Chinese made pencils to avoid antidumping duties, according to a May 2012 press release.

PIERS offers instant access to details on U.S. import shipments. Our international trade data combined with market specific intelligence can help provide a global picture of a commodity, the companies trading it and possibly dumping activities.  Register online for a demo.

Back-to-School 101: It’s in the Bag

September 11, 2012

The Huntington Backpack Index estimates, on average, back-to-school costs will increase 6% in 2012. The annual survey of the cost of school supplies and for common extracurricular activities found:

  • Elementary school student — $548
  • Middle school student — $724
  • High school student — $1,117

With $500 plus worth of supplies, how do they carry it all? The trusty backpack!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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!

%d bloggers like this: