2011 was a year of contrasts in the Asia-U.S. trade. U.S. containerized imports from Asia were essentially flat, inching up just 0.9 percent year-over-year to 12.5 million 20-foot equivalent units and remaining 0.1 percent below the pre-recession levels of 2008.
But overall U.S. trade with Asian countries, supported by a 7.5 percent jump in exports, increased 3.1 percent year-over-year to more than 19.2 million TEUs. More telling, that trade was 3.5 percent above 2008. Exports to the region reached a record 6.7 million TEUs, supporting the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative.
Data (PDF): U.S. Trade with Asian Countries, by Asian Region by Month
Data (PDF): U.S. Trade with Asian Countries, by Asia Region by U.S. Port
Data (PDF): U.S. Trade with Asian Countries, by Asia Region by Ocean Carrier
West Coast ports held a 68.3 percent share of overall U.S.-Asia trade in 2011, with East Coast ports holding a 29.7 percent share and Gulf ports claiming 2 percent.
Gulf ports, however, led all coasts with 12.4 percent growth in overall Asia-U.S. trade — 10.4 percent in exports and 13.7 percent in imports. East Coast ports handled 4.2 percent more in overall trade, with exports surging 9.1 percent and imports up 1.7 percent. West Coast ports lagged, growing 2.4 percent overall and 6.8 percent on the export side. But imports from Asia were essentially flat, up 0.3 percent. Overall West Coast port trade with Asia was up just 1 percent over the pre-recession levels of 2008, with imports down 1.3 percent and exports up 5.6 percent.
The Asian regions likewise showed mixed results in 2011. U.S. exports to Northeast Asia were up 8.3 percent year-over-year, far outpacing imports’ 0.8 percent rise. U.S. exports to the Indian subcontinent advanced 6.9 percent year-over-year, while imports rose 2.3 percent. U.S. exports to Southeast Asia were up 4.2 percent, but imports climbed just 0.9 percent.
Northeast Asia held a 78 percent share of U.S. exports to Asia last year. Southeast Asia accounted for 14.9 percent and the Indian subcontinent, 7 percent.
Likewise, Northeast Asia held a dominant 82.3 percent of the U.S. import market; Southeast Asia, 12.5 percent; and the Indian subcontinent, 5.2 percent.
Two carrier start-ups entered the U.S. trade within the last few years: The Containership Company and Hainan P.O. Shipping, while two others, Grand China Shipping and TS Lines, expanded their services. TCC and Grand China have since withdrawn from the trade and U.S.-flag carrier Horizon Lines terminated its trans-Pacific China service.
Contact Marsha Salisbury at email@example.com.