Trans-Pacific Container Trade Predicted to Increase 9.1 Percent in 2011

NEWARK, N.J., March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Trans-Pacific eastbound(1) and westbound(2) container trade is forecast to grow at a healthy rate of 9.1 percent in 2011, versus 10.4 percent in 2010, despite continuing economic challenges in the U.S. and global economy. While still eluding peak volumes of 2007, eastbound trade is expected to increase 8.2 percent to 13.5 million TEUs and westbound trade growth will accelerate to 11 percent, from 4.3 percent in 2010, to 6.9 million TEUs. Complete details will be presented during the 11th annual Journal of Commerce (JOC) Trans-Pacific Maritime (TPM) conference, held next week in Long Beach, California.

The U.S. economy will continue to expand in 2011 as consumers increase spending by 3.2 percent, after growing by an estimated 2.9 percent in 2010. According to Mario Moreno, JOC Economist, "several factors contribute to the growth forecast of trans-Pacific eastbound trade, including payroll tax reductions, extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, and wages and salaries rebounding in 2010 by 3.5 percent after falling by 1.8 percent and 2.5 percent in 2009 and 2008 respectively."

Retail sales will continue their upward trajectory in 2011. Auto sales, accounting for nearly 25 percent of total U.S. retail sales, grew significantly last year, up 12.2 percent versus 2009, and subsequently, containerized imports of auto parts increased 40 percent, as indicated by PIERS data. Since auto sales are still running below replacement levels, Moreno expects sales will continue to increase in 2011. Given that monthly retail inventory levels for goods overall were on average lower than 2008 levels, there is positive indication that inventory levels have room to grow.

Trans-Pacific westbound trade growth is forecast to almost triple in 2011, following a 4.3 percent increase in 2010. Asian economies will expand, primarily Northeast Asia(3) at 4.8 percent, Southeast Asia(4) by 5.2 percent and the India subcontinent(5) by 6.5 percent.

To access the graph, "Westbound Trans-Pacific Trade Forecast in TEUS," visit: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110303/NY58387 

This positive growth for U.S. exports will be led by China, the largest U.S. container export market. China's demand for U.S. goods will continue to rise driven by several factors including an increase in Chinese wages throughout 2011, enabling higher Chinese personal consumption, and the exchange value decline of the U.S. dollar over the Chinese RMB. Further supporting the positive growth forecast for U.S. exports is an adverse impact on global production due to a rise of extreme weather events.

Southeast Asia growth will be led by Indonesia and Vietnam, with Vietnam growing primarily from private investment and consumption and the need for U.S. containerized commodities including soybeans and related products, waste paper and fabrics including raw cotton.

The India subcontinent is improving its manufacturing capacity in order to boost its export performance which in turn means increased demand for U.S. raw materials moving in containers, like waster paper and scrap metals. U.S. exports to Pakistan and Bangladesh center mainly around raw cotton as both economies remain regional top sources for apparel.

While the forecast is positive, challenges persist which may impact forecasted growth rates. Americans continue to struggle with a high unemployment rate of 9.0 percent and slow job creation (only 909,000 jobs in 2010). American's household liabilities continue to be higher than disposable personal income by 21 percent. Oil prices are increasing at an alarming rate partly as a result of political unrest in the Middle East. And trade relations may sour if the U.S. government decides to punish countries like China alleged by the U.S. to be currency manipulators.

The outlook for trans-Pacific container trade will be presented at the 11th annual TPM conference held on March 7-8, 2011 in Long Beach, California. TPM is the largest North American container shipping and logistics event, attracting more than 1,600 attendees in 2011, a record turnout. The event takes place this year against a backdrop of the aftershocks of 2009-2010 in the trans-Pacific, considered to be hugely disruptive years in container shipping. As carriers and volumes recover along with the tepid U.S. recovery, major changes will unfold in 2011 that will receive thorough coverage at TPM. These include: carriers' exit from providing chassis, the long-term shift to rail intermodal for long-haul freight, carriers' newfound rapid-response capacity withdrawals, and the impact of fast-growing exports on the overall trans-Pacific market.

As it has each year since 2001, TPM will offer BCOs, carriers, 3PLs, railroads and other industry participants a revealing, analytical, and educational two-day briefing on all the major moving parts of the trans-Pacific market in advance of service contract renewals and the 2011 peak season. With its consistently high-caliber program developed by the JOC editorial staff, attendees can expect a valuable networking and learning experience at the 2011 TPM conference. For more information, or to register for the conference, please visit: www.joc.com/tpm2011.

(1) Trans-Pacific eastbound trade refers to U.S. imports from Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

(2) Trans-Pacific westbound trade refers to U.S. exports to Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

(3) Northeast Asia includes the countries of Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Mongolia, North Korea, Peoples Republic of China, Republic of Korea, and Taiwan

(4) Southeast Asia includes the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam

(5) India subcontinent includes the countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

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