Sluggish economic growth, a weak jobs market and flagging consumer confidence have led Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno to lower his forecast for U.S. containerized imports and exports this year.
In the June issue of the JOC/PIERS Container Shipping Outlook, Moreno reduced his forecast for containerized imports to 4.1 percent from 4.5 percent. He downgraded his forecast for export growth to 2.3 percent from 3.5 percent.
Below-par growth in employment remains a drag on housing, which supports imports of furniture and other home goods, and on consumer spending that supports retail imports, Moreno said.
His revised forecast calls for 17.636 million 20-foot-equivalent units this year. That would be an increase from the 16,939,004 million TEUs in 2011, when volume rose 2.9 percent. The forecast for the next two years calls for imports to rise 5.2 percent to 18.55 million TEUs in 2013 and 6.5 percent to 19.75 million TEUs in 2014.
The record for U.S. containerized imports was 18.4 million TEUs in 2006.
Exports are expected to total 12.174 million TEUs this year. That would compare with 11,901,421 TEUs last year, when exports rose 6.5 percent. For 2013, exports are forecast to rise 4.3 percent to 12.7 million TEUs. The 2014 projections call for a 4.3 percent increase to 13.245 million TEUs.
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