U.S. containerized exports rose 6.7 percent in the third quarter, the eighth straight quarter of expansion, led by rising demand for wastepaper, scrap metal and containerization of grains, PIERS data show.
Exports for the July-September quarter increased to 2,933,396 20-foot-equivalent units. Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno had forecast a 6.3 percent increase at the start of the quarter.
Westbound trans-Pacific exports jumped 10.4 percent to 1,653,158 TEUs, or 56 percent of total exports. Moreno had forecast a 10 percent increase. Shipments to China, the top destination for U.S. containerized exports, rose 13 percent to 652,069 TEUs, following a 6 percent year-over-year gain in the second quarter.
Other countries with increases included Taiwan, up 24 percent to 163,983 TEUs; Korea, up 12 percent to 168,043 TEUs; and Australia, which rose 19 percent to 61,945 TEUs. Exports to Italy dropped 23 percent to 31,275 TEUs.
Paper and paperboard exports, principally wastepaper, rose 9 percent to 427,732 TEUs, or 14.6 percent of total exports. Scrap metal exports jumped 54 percent to 73,138 TEUs.
Containerized exports of grain and flour products rose 37 percent to 40,468 TEUs. Shipments of containerized soybeans nearly doubled to 40,298 TEUs
Although the vast majority of grain and soybean exports continue to move in bulk carriers, Moreno said a growing number of Chinese importers are opting to receiving grain and flour in containers because it’s easier to finance.
PIERS data also show U.S. poultry exporters appear to have found markets to offset declines resulting from China’s imposition of countervailing duties. Overall poultry exports rose 32 percent to 48,619 TEUs, as shipments increased to Hong Kong, Korea and Angola.
Exports of cotton and other fabrics dropped 43 percent to 42,657 TEUs. Animal feeds, including compressed hay bales, declined 11 percent and resins dropped 13 percent. Through the first nine months of the year, total exports in TEUs increased 8.3 percent.