U.S. containerized imports experienced a 7 percent year-over-year drop in March 2013, according to advance figures from PIERS, a JOC sister company. Total U.S. containerized imports fell to 1.26 million 20-foot-equivalent units, the first month with a volume below 1.3 million TEUs since February 2012.
"Box imports fell markedly in March mainly because the regular 2-week closing of Chinese factories on Lunar New Year festivities was late compared to 2012, inducing tough year-over-year comparisons. This is evidenced by a sharp volume contraction of 18% YoY from China,” said JOC economist Mario Moreno.
Imports fell in March versus February 2013, which is abnormal for this time of year, by 11.2 percent. February 2013 had seen a year-over-year jump of 20 percent.
The largest declines among the top 25 imported goods were in computers, down 24 percent; lamps and parts, down 20 percent; and toys, down 19 percent, all compared to March 2012. Leading the gains were fruits, jumping 20 percent versus March 2012; non-alcoholic beverages and bananas, both up 11 percent; and still wines, up 10 percent.
Among the top 25 source countries, shipments from Hong Kong decreased the most in March, by 26.5 percent year-over-year to 20,876 TEUs. Mainland China followed with an 18 percent year-over-year drop to 473,530 TEUs, while Taiwan’s volume fell 17 percent to 34,550. Of the largest increases, U.S. imports from Costa Rica jumped 23 percent to 17,805 TEUs. Shipments from Guatemala totaled 26,591 TEUs in the month, up 21.5 percent. Imports from the Netherlands saw growth of 21.3 percent in March to 24,102 TEUs.