NEWARK, N.J., May 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A return to spending by American consumers helped fuel 2011 increases in imports and exports, The Journal of Commerce reports in its annual Top 100 Importers and Exporters edition this week. The special double issue features exclusive rankings of the Top 100 importers and exporters of containerized goods for 2011 along with market segment analysis, valuable economic insight and expert commentary.
A still-soft consumer market meant restrained overall growth with exports — primarily of industrial and agricultural goods — driving U.S. trade. Higher-value retail goods continue to lead in containerized imports, which Journal of Commerce/PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno expects to rise 4.5 percent this year from 2011 volume of 16.9 million 20-foot equivalent container units. Moreno forecasts exports will increase 3.5 percent from 11.9 million TEUs of last year.
Paper was at the forefront of exports as the California-based wastepaper producer America Chung Nam held the No. 1 spot for the 11th consecutive year -- shipping nearly 355,000 TEUs -- and Koch Industries' GP Harmon Recycling unit moved into No. 2. Paper recyclables accounted for 22 out of the 100 exporters ranked. Much of America Chung Nam's paper supply becomes packaging for Chinese manufacturers, and ends up on the shelves of top importer, Wal-Mart. The world's largest retailer claimed the No. 1 importer position again this year, at 710,000 TEUs. Target, again at No. 2, was followed by Home Depot and Lowe's, emphasizing a consumer focus on home goods and improvement.
U.S. imports increased 3 percent in 2011 over 2010, but were flat with pre-recession 2008. In contrast, U.S. exports surged 6 percent year-over-year and were 5 percent above 2008. Overall 2011 trade performance was influenced by the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan and the catastrophic Thai flooding last fall.
Webcasts moderated by the JOC's Managing Editor of Digital media, Dana Brundage, will dive deeper into the content of the lists and predictions for the upcoming year. Log on to www.joc.com/webcasts to listen and participate in live Q&A on:
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