U.S. containerized imports dropped 1.7 percent in June from the same month last year after rising 5.5 percent in May, a poor signal for trade heading into the peak shipping season.
Imports during the month totaled to 1,442,958 20-foot equivalent units as persistent struggles in the U.S. housing market stifled imports of key household-related goods, according to Mario O. Moreno, chief economist of The Journal of Commerce and its sister-company PIERS. Imports are still up for the year-to-date through June, however, registering a positive 6.3 percent gain.
By the Numbers: U.S. Container Trade 2008-2011
In June, furniture imports fell 9 percent (or 13,776 TEUs) to a total of 142,102 TEUs, while sheets, towels and blankets imports dropped 21 percent (or 6,439 TEUs) to a total of 23,757 TEUs. Significant declines were also seen in toys (down 15 percent) and apparel (-4 percent), indicating that discretionary spending is waning.
Containerized imports of goods related to autos once again posted significant gains. Auto parts imports climbed 15 percent (or 6,418 TEUs) totaling 49,950 TEUs, while tires & tubes rose 9 percent (or 3,000 TEUs) to a total of 37,340 TEUs. Gains in bananas were also significant, up 10 percent, or 2,727 TEUs, amounting to 30,313 TEUs.
On a regional level, imports from Northeast Asia led the decline in overall containerized imports, contracting 5 percent year-over-year (or 41,830 TEUs) to a total of 876,933 TEUs.
Imports from Northern Europe continued posting remarkable gains, advancing 11 percent (or 14,372 TEUs) totaling 141,184 TEUs, mainly driven by auto parts and construction and building equipment, while imports from Central America expanded 9 percent (or 5,437 TEUs) amounting to 62,816 TEUs, mostly led by bananas and apparel.
On a country level, the volume of imports from largest U.S. supplier country China fell by the most, down 4.2 percent year-over-year (or 30,241 TEUs) to a total of 690,221 TEUs, as gains in auto parts couldn’t offset significant losses in furniture, sheets and blankets, and toys.
Shipments from Hong Kong contracted 11 percent, while from second-ranked source country Korea fell 5.5 percent (or 3,341 TEUs) to a total of 56,940 TEUs as a struggling housing market adversely impacted Korean shipments of home appliances such as refrigerators (-14 percent) and laundry machines (-39 percent). Notable gainers include Germany, up 17 percent, and Belgium, up 29 percent.