Yogi Berra might as well have been talking about the 2012 JOC Top 100 Importers and Exporters rankings when he uttered one of his infamous quotes: “It’s déjà vu, all over again.”
America Chung Nam, the City of Industry, Calif.-based wastepaper producer, ranked No. 1 in 2011 U.S. containerized exports for the 11th consecutive year, sending nearly 355,000 20-foot equivalent units of the recyclables overseas, principally to its China-based sister company, Nine Dragons Paper Industries. The low-value U.S. export is a critical component in China’s burgeoning supply chain.
Data: Top 100 Exporters in 2011
Data: Top 100 Importers in 2011
Torn and tattered when it arrives, the wastepaper is converted into containerboard packaging that likely will encase Chinese exports of consumer goods en route to the U.S. — perhaps destined for Wal-Mart Stores, the top-ranked U.S. importer with 710,000 TEUs of retail goods in 2011.
America Chung Nam is far from alone in exporting so-called recovered paper. Koch Industries’ GP Harmon Recycling unit (The No. 2 exporter overall), Newport CH International (No. 7), Potential Industries (No. 11) and JC Horizon (No. 12) round out the Top 5 in that sector. All told, the paper recyclables segment accounted for 22 companies in the Top 100.
Australia’s Sims Metal Management, No. 4 overall, led the ranking in dedicated recovered metal exports at 111,600 TEUs, with Advanced Steel Recovery (No. 39), David J. Joseph (41), Alco Iron & Metal (67)and American Metal Export (82) rounding out the Top 5 in the segment.
Metal scrap exports serve as the backhaul for finished metal products — the original equipment manufactures and replacement automobile parts for the Big Four and the active plants of the European and Asian automakers that are ramping up stateside production and plant expansions.
The Top 100 import leaders in the finished-goods segment were 40th-ranked Mercedes Benz/Daimler Trucks, Toyota Tsusho (No. 47), BMW of North America (57), Keystone Automotive Industries (61), Nissan North America (63), American Honda Motor/Honda North America (69), Kia Motors America (90) and Nexen Tire America (99).
Leading the outbound cargoes by vehicle makers was Caterpillar at 52,000 TEUs, Deere, Ford Motor, GM and Mercedes Benz.
Among commodities engaged in two-way trade, tires were anything but flat. Michelin North America, No. 70 overall, led the outbound trade in the segment, shipping 20,200 TEUs, followed by 92nd-ranked Goodyear with 14,900 TEUs.
Ten tire companies made their mark on the import trade, led, again, by 28th-ranked Michelin, with 43,100 TEUs. Also making the list were Bridgestone Americas (36), Hankook Tire America (49), Falken Tire (56), Yokohama (75), Giti Tire (tied for 83rd with Toyo Tire and Rubber), Pirelli (86), Cooper Tire and Rubber (97) and Nexen Tire America. (99).
U.S. government cargoes also helped fuel exports. The Military Surface Deployment & Distribution Command, the 21st-ranked exporter, led the segment at 58,300 TEUs, followed by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (No. 26), the U.S. Agency for International Development (65) and the Defense Commissary Agency (68).
Related: About the Top 100
U.S. imports increased 3 percent in 2011 over 2010, but were flat with pre-recession 2008. In contrast, U.S. exports in 2011 surged 6 percent year-over-year, and were 5 percent above 2008 results. While solid growth, it’s not enough to meet the pace of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports in the five years through 2014.
It’s important to keep the overall 2011 trade performance in context with the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan and the catastrophic Thai flooding last fall. Coupled with a soft post-recession consumer market and mixed macroeconomic environment, growth undoubtedly was restrained.
Perhaps Hewlett-Packard President and CEO Meg Whitman summed up the trade environment best in the company’s annual report: “We are working diligently to manage our supply chain and inventories to mitigate as much as possible, any adverse impact to our customers and our businesses,” she wrote.
Contact Marsha Salisbury at email@example.com.