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Zepol Corporation, the trade intelligence company, reports that U.S. vessel imports are down 5 percent from January but up 15 percent from February of 2012, even with one less day this year.
The total TEU (twenty-foot-container) count was over 1.4 million and total shipments were over 720,000. February imports have not reached this level for four years, which is a similar stat seen in January. According to Zepol, it appears that import levels are indeed reverting back to the numbers seen before the recession.
“Total imports for January and February of 2013 are almost 7 percent higher compared to the same time last year,” states U.S. trade expert and CEO of Zepol, Paul Rasmussen, “It will be interesting to see if this holds true for the remainder of quarter one as the data for March comes in… We may be looking at a stronger year for imports than expected.”
Quick Stats for U.S. Imports in February of 2013:
- Exporting Countries – The import surge from last February to this year was mainly seen from Asia and Europe which saw increases from February of 2012 by 20.8 percent and 8 percent, respectively. China was the main source of goods from Asia and increased from last February by 34 percent; it was even within four points of January TEUs. Some European countries not only posted significant increases from 2012, but actually rose from January including Germany, which increased 18.3 percent and the Netherlands, which rose 12.3 percent from last month.
- U.S. Ports – U.S. ports also had an interesting month in February. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach decreased slightly from January, as expected, but skyrocketed in import volume from last February. L.A. rose 19.8 percent from this time last year and Long Beach had a 56 percent increase, bringing in over 100,000 more TEUs in 2013 than February of 2012.
Carriers – As for the vessels that haul all these containers to the United States, Maersk Line was the only one of the top ten to increase in TEU volume from January to February. Maersk rose by 7.7 percent this month and also increased from last February by 9 percent. APL and Mediterranean Shipping Company were the second and third largest carriers this month and decreased from January by 14 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Although these carriers, like everything else, increased from last year by 13.8 percent and 20.2 percent.
Zepol's data is derived from Bills of Lading entered into U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). This information represents the number of House manifests entered by importers of waterborne vessel goods. This is the earliest indicator for trade data available for the previous month’s import activity. The data excludes shipments from empty containers, excludes shipments labeled as freight remaining on board, and may contain other data anomalies.