U.S. containerized trade with Asia will grow over the next two years despite possible macroeconomic bumps, PIERS forecasts in its latest quarterly Trade Horizons report.
PIERS, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce, expects total Asian import volume in 20-foot-equivalent container units will increase 6.6 percent this year and 7 percent in 2012 as a recovering economy increases demand for Asian-made goods.
Total U.S. containerized exports to Asia are expected to rise 2.4 percent this year and 5.4 percent in 2012. PIERS said export volume might be held down by competition from regional suppliers led by China and the possible displacement of bulkier low-value commodity exports by higher-value shipments such as automobile parts and foodstuffs.
The region’s trade is dominated by Northeast Asia, which includes China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. U.S. imports from Northeast Asia are expected to grow 6.5 percent to 11 million TEUs this year and 7.3 percent to 11.8 million TEUs in 2012. U.S. exports from the region are expected to rise 4.8 percent to 4.9 million TEUs this year and 5.4 percent to 5.26 million TEUs in 2012.
“The combination of increased capital inflows and rising exchange rates will set the stage for increased U.S. exports to the region but . . . the commodity mix may be in the process of shifting to higher-value goods, which could actually limit volume growth,” PIERS Economist Mario Moreno wrote in the Trade Horizons report.
For imports from Northeast Asia, PIERS sees a fourth quarter increase in U.S. retail sales as a positive sign.
“After realizing improved sales during the quarter, U.S. retailers will be less hesitant to restock for 2011,” the Trade Horizons report said.
On the down side, clouds over imports could include the continuing European debt crisis and continued weakness in the U.S. housing and jobs markets.
In the lower-volume Southeast Asia region, U.S. import volume is forecast to rise 7.7 percent to 1.65 million TEUs this year and 5.6 percent to 1.74 million TEUs in 2012, while exports are expected to increase 1.9 percent to 977,450 TEUs this year and 6 percent to 1.36 million TEUs in 2012.
Import volume from Southeast Asia was slowed last year by weakness in apparel shipments, but furniture, the top import commodity, increased 10.9 percent as U.S. sales received a boost from government home-purchase credits early in 2010.