U.S. containerized exports increased modestly in January as solid growth in Asian markets was partially offset by losses in European markets. Overall U.S. containerized exports surged 2.3 percent in January year-over-year to a total of 978,295 20-foot equivalent units, following a rise of 3.1 percent in the prior month, according to the latest PIERS data.
Gains were led by paper and paperboard (up 4 percent or 6,026 TEUs), soybeans (+37 percent or 5,034 TEUs), meat (+28 percent or 3,870 TEUs) and mixed metal scrap (+16 percent or 3,679 TEUs). Modest gains were seen in poultry, wood pulp and motor vehicles. Partially offsetting the gains, fabrics including raw cotton were down 30 percent or 14,522 TEUs, and synthetic resins dropped 48 percent or 10,867 TEUs.
On a regional level, exports to Northeast Asia rose by the most, up 6 percent (or 24,798 TEUs) year over year to a total of 448,418 TEUs. Outbound shipments to the Caribbean also showed solid gains, up 22 percent (or 7,479 TEUs), while shipments to Southeast Asia dropped 1 percent (or 1,151 TEUs).
Related content for JOC members: Export Growth Loses Steam
On the downside, exports to the Mediterranean dropped 15 percent (or 8,445 TEUs) to a total of 47,293 TEUs, mainly on tumbling demand for fabrics including raw cotton, paper and paperboard, and logs and lumber. Meanwhile, exports to Northern Europe contracted 4 percent (or 4,409 TEUs) to a total of 109,183 TEUs, mainly on account of falling demand for motor vehicles, paper and paperboard, and wood pulp. Recent data indicates the Eurozone slipped back into technical recession during the first quarter of the year as manufacturing activity remains in contraction. This suggests that exports to Europe may continue experiencing losses for a few more months.
On a country level, Taiwan gained the most volume as its robust petrochemical sector drove a sharp demand for oil field equipment. Exports to Taiwan jumped 17 percent (or 8,513 TEUs) year over year to a total of 58,442 TEUs. Other gains were seen in shipments to China, up 8 percent or 16,738 TEUs; India, up 25 percent or 6,057 TEUs; and Vietnam, up 21 percent or 3,385 TEUs. Exports to Turkey and Hong Kong declined the most, down 29 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
On a month to month basis, exports declined 2 percent in January 2012 over December 2011.