It’s no surprise that China tops the list of the top sourcing sites for U.S. imports in 2011, but the Asian manufacturing engine’s share appears to be shrinking. Overall U.S. container imports grew 3 percent in 2011 while imports from China rose just 0.7 percent, indicating the bulk of the overall growth came from other parts of the world.
Then, which source countries showed the most gains?
By taking a quick glance at the table we’ll notice that shipments from all top source countries increased, except from Hong Kong and flood-damaged Thailand. But the one single provider whose shipments rose by the most was Germany, up 15.6 percent or 69,023 20-foot equivalent units, surpassing the advance from almighty China of 0.7 percent or 52,546 TEUs.
If we agree that 2011 was another not-stellar recovery year for the U.S. economy, then why the sharp jump in demand for pricey German goods?
Two reasons: a thriving US auto industry which spurred a strong demand for auto parts, and gains in the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar over the Euro stemming from ongoing sovereign debt problems in the Union. Germany has increased its share of total container shipments to the U.S. by one-third of a percentage point, to 3 percent.
Conversely, a soft U.S. domestic consumption and rising import prices from China limited growth in China’s exports to the U.S. Rising import costs in China also prompted some shippers to look away in search for sourcing alternatives, many found in Central America. China saw its share of total container shipments to the U.S. decrease by 1.1 percentage points to a still admirable 47.4 percent.