Executive Briefings

U.S. Imports in 2012 Increase 1.2 Percent Over 2011

U.S. vessel imports rose a slight 1.2 percent in 2012 over the year before. This was a total of over 17.6 million TEUs imported, or roughly 200,000 more containers than in 2011. Slow and steady growth seems to be the consistent pattern for the year as import volume still has not returned to 2007 or 2008 levels. Zepol has seen a large spike from 2009 to 2010 and then a plateau-like trend for the past three years, although 2012 was an especially unique year for U.S. imports.

"In the past 12 months there have been strikes at the ports, hurricanes, and shifts in manufacturing. Not to mention that in a post-recession economy, U.S. companies are running their businesses much more conservatively." says Paul Rasmussen, U.S. trade expert and CEO of Zepol Corp. "It's no wonder that 2012 imports were less than dramatic and certainly not back to the massive consumption seen in 2007."

A Closer Look at U.S. Imports for 2012:

1. What countries does the United States import the most from? - U.S. imports from Asia increased 0.2% from 2011, but it's nowhere near the increase seen from Europe which rose 6.4% in 2012. China, the leading exporter to the United States decreased in TEU exports for the second consecutive year by 0.4%. Although, South Korea, the second-largest exporting country, increased 1.2%. Japan and Germany, the third- and fourth-largest exporting countries to the United States, also had some significant growth in 2012, rising by 2.2% and 8.7%, respectively.

2. What were the top U.S. ports in 2012? -  The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest ports in the country and both have posted slight decreases from 2011 by 0.7% and 2.3%. On the other hand, the Port of Newark/New York, the nation's third-largest port, increased in 2012 by 1.6%. Notable increases in traffic were also seen from the Port of Norfolk, Virginia by 10.3% and the Port of Charleston, South Carolina by 7.4%.

3. Which carriers brought in the most goods? -  As for the ships that carry all these goods to the United States, Maersk Line was the top carrier again for 2012 and increased in TEUs from 2011 by 7.9%. Mediterranean Shipping Company was the second largest carrier in 2012 and rose a slight 0.6% from 2011. APL Co. ranked third and had a solid increase in TEU imports by 5.1%.

Zepol's data is derived from bills of lading entered into U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment. This information represents the number of house manifests entered by importers of waterborne vessel goods. This is the earliest indicator for trade data available for the previous month's import activity. The data excludes shipments from empty containers, excludes shipments labeled as freight remaining on board, and may contain other data anomalies.

Source: Zepol Corporation

"In the past 12 months there have been strikes at the ports, hurricanes, and shifts in manufacturing. Not to mention that in a post-recession economy, U.S. companies are running their businesses much more conservatively." says Paul Rasmussen, U.S. trade expert and CEO of Zepol Corp. "It's no wonder that 2012 imports were less than dramatic and certainly not back to the massive consumption seen in 2007."

A Closer Look at U.S. Imports for 2012:

1. What countries does the United States import the most from? - U.S. imports from Asia increased 0.2% from 2011, but it's nowhere near the increase seen from Europe which rose 6.4% in 2012. China, the leading exporter to the United States decreased in TEU exports for the second consecutive year by 0.4%. Although, South Korea, the second-largest exporting country, increased 1.2%. Japan and Germany, the third- and fourth-largest exporting countries to the United States, also had some significant growth in 2012, rising by 2.2% and 8.7%, respectively.

2. What were the top U.S. ports in 2012? -  The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest ports in the country and both have posted slight decreases from 2011 by 0.7% and 2.3%. On the other hand, the Port of Newark/New York, the nation's third-largest port, increased in 2012 by 1.6%. Notable increases in traffic were also seen from the Port of Norfolk, Virginia by 10.3% and the Port of Charleston, South Carolina by 7.4%.

3. Which carriers brought in the most goods? -  As for the ships that carry all these goods to the United States, Maersk Line was the top carrier again for 2012 and increased in TEUs from 2011 by 7.9%. Mediterranean Shipping Company was the second largest carrier in 2012 and rose a slight 0.6% from 2011. APL Co. ranked third and had a solid increase in TEU imports by 5.1%.

Zepol's data is derived from bills of lading entered into U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment. This information represents the number of house manifests entered by importers of waterborne vessel goods. This is the earliest indicator for trade data available for the previous month's import activity. The data excludes shipments from empty containers, excludes shipments labeled as freight remaining on board, and may contain other data anomalies.

Source: Zepol Corporation