Wastepaper exports to China often are a leading indicator of import container volume. A large portion of scrap paper shipments are recycled into packing material for consumer goods for U.S. and European markets.
February’s export data from PIERS, a Journal of Commerce sister company, suggest import growth in the months ahead. U.S. exports of paper and paperboard, including wastepaper, rose 18 percent to 154,271 20-foot equivalent units.
Almost all of the increase came from a 31 percent jump in shipments of the commodity to China, which accounted for two-thirds of U.S. paper and paperboard exports in February. Wastepaper is the top-ranked commodity in U.S. containerized exports.
Overall U.S. containerized exports in February jumped 9.6 percent from a year earlier, following a 2.3 percent increase in January. The 1,014,176 TEUs represented a 4 percent increase from January volume. Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno forecasts a 3.5 percent increase in export volume to 12.3 million TEUs this year. He expects 6 percent growth in 2013.
Total shipments to China increased 28 percent to 253,894 TEUs in February, following an 8 percent increase to 227,868 TEUs in January. Exports to India rose 30 percent to 27,966 TEUs. Exports to Russia jumped 82 percent to 13,928 TEUs.
Several export commodities showed sharp increases in February. Pet and animal feeds, the second-ranking export commodity, increased 12 percent to 48,227 TEUs. Poultry rose 62 percent to 22,267 TEUs. Frozen fish shipments jumped 157 percent to 10,524 TEUs. Exports of building materials nearly tripled to 13,788 TEUs. Metal scrap was up 28 percent to 13,139 TEUs.
Exports of raw cotton and fabrics declined 15 percent to 37,692 TEUs in February. Logs and lumber were down 7 percent to 27,425 TEUs. Synthetic resins fell 21 percent to 16,488 TEUs.
Northeast Asia, the top destination for U.S. containerized exports, showed 12 percent growth to 459,713 TEUs, or 45.3 percent of total export volume. Shipments to North Europe increased 19 percent to 135,384 TEUs.
Strong export gains also were posted in the Caribbean, with exports to the region up 49 percent to 55,813 TEUs, and the west coast of South America, where shipments rose 16 percent to 35,621 TEUs, boosted by increased U.S. exports of paper and paperboard, PVC resins and auto parts.
Exports to the Mediterranean fell 18 percent to 40,841 TEUs. Shipments to Southeast Asia fell 9 percent to 73,973 TEUs.