U.S. containerized imports rose 2.9 percent in the second quarter, led by year-over-year increases in furniture, auto parts, bananas and electronics, PIERS data show.
Through the first half of the year, U.S. containerized imports were up 2.4 percent, with increases of 3.2 percent in June and 2.1 percent in May. Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno forecasts a full-year increase of 4.1 percent.
Furniture, which accounts for more than 10 percent of total containerized imports, increased 7 percent, to 468,281 20-foot equivalent units, in the second quarter. Import volume for all commodities was 4,438,178 TEUs.
Auto parts, the second-largest import commodity in volume, jumped 19 percent, to 183,260 TEUs, as Americans increased spending on cars. Bananas, the No. 4 containerized import commodity, rose 12 percent, to 108,161 TEUs. Electronics and electronic products rose 12 percent, to 75,651 TEUs.
Demand remained soft for footwear and apparel. Footwear imports declined 18 percent, to 90,209 TEUs. Menswear was down 13 percent, to 59,883 TEUs. Miscellaneous apparel fell 6 percent, to 69,132 TEUs. Women’s and infant wear slipped 4 percent, to 92,119 TEUs.
Imports from Northeast Asia, including China, led the increases, rising 2 percent. Northeast Asia imports were 2.7 million TEUs, or 61 percent of total imports during the quarter. China shipments increased 2 percent, to 2,112,910 TEUs.
Imports from Korea, the second-ranking origin country for U.S. containerized imports, rose 2 percent, to 181,750 TEUs. No. 3 Japan increased 11 percent, to 158,991 TEUs. No. 4 Vietnam posted a 16 percent increase, to 139,907 TEUs.
Imports rose by 5 percent from Southeast Asia and 9 percent from the Mediterranean, but declined by 4 percent from the west coast of South America and 5 percent from the Middle East.
Moreno said imports from China were aided by declining prices as the renminbi’s value slipped against the dollar. He said overall increases in the second half of the year will be held down by continuing high U.S. unemployment and the eurozone crisis.