U.S. containerized imports in June showed substantial year-over-year growth, as labor negotiations on the West Coast seem to have induced an early ocean container shipping peak season.
U.S. containerized imports were up 6.9 percent year-over-year in June. That gain followed a 10 percent year-over-year jump in April, and a 2.3 percent rise in May. A total of 1,602,062 TEUs came into the U.S. from source countries in June, according to PIERS, the data division of JOC Group, 1.1 percent lower than May’s totals.
Shippers importing goods into the U.S. bent the normal seasonal curve by shipping earlier this year in an effort to avoid congestion and slowdowns at U.S. west coast ports, where the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and port owners are involved in labor contract negotiations.
“ILWU talks skewed second-quarter import volumes, but imports are still en route to reach a new peak volume this year of 19 million TEUs,” JOC economist Mario Moreno said. “For the second quarter of the year, imports expanded 6.6 percent year over year, 1.3 percent over forecast. I estimate about 45,000 inbound TEUs were pushed forward from the third to the second quarter.”
Peak season is usually seen around July and August, but the early shipments could have pushed the peak season months earlier, boosting May and June numbers. Year-to-date, containerized imports to the U.S. are up 5 percent.
Regionally, imports from northeast Asia were up 7 percent, and U.S. imports from northern Europe rose by 12 percent year over year. Trade with several countries grew by double-digit percentages year-over-year. Containerized import volumes from the Netherlands jumped 19 percent compared with June 2013, and containerized imports from Spain rose 20 percent year-over-year.
U.S. imports from the east coast of South America were down 6 percent, and imports from the Caribbean fell 9 percent. Brazil and Ecuador both saw 6 percent drops in their containerized exports to the U.S. in June.
Several commodities saw huge year-over-year increases, including plastic products, which jumped 48 percent compared with June 2013, and fabrics including raw cotton, which rose 38 percent compared with the same period.
Containerized imports of menswear dropped the most, falling 24 percent year-over-year, while imports of sheets and towels dropped 16 percent and miscellaneous apparel imports dropped 13 percent.