Interestingly, low October numbers were not always the case. Looking at pre-recession levels, October had some of the highest TEU counts, but in 2011 and 2012, the holiday import-surge has shifted back to July and August. For the remainder of 2012, U.S. imports will most likely decline as the peak season ends for importers and consumption begins to wane.
A Closer Look at U.S. Imports for October:
1. Exporting Countries - The United States saw a significant drop in imports from Asian countries this month by over 5%. China, which accounts for over 60% of Asian exports to the United States, fell 8.2% from September and 2.4% from October of 2011. Japan, on the other hand, increased in TEUs to the United States by 14.2% from September and increased from last October by 1.7%. Europe was a similar story to Asia, with most countries seeing a drop in imports from September. Germany saw a 16.4% drop from September and Italy and Belgium decreased 7.3% and 19%, respectively.
2. U.S. Ports - The Port of Los Angeles, which accounted for 24% of U.S. imports in October, fell 6.4% from September and another 5.7% from last year. The Port of Newark/New York also fell significantly from September by 24.8%. Unlike most Ports, the Port of Tacoma actually saw an increase in TEUs of 2.3% and an even larger increase from last October by 36.3%.
3. Carriers - Most carriers also saw a drop in October TEU imports from September. The top VOCC (vessel-operating common carrier), Maersk Line, fell 13.5% this month, as well as Mediterranean Shipping Company by 9.6%. On the other hand, APL Co had a significant rise in imports by 12% and even rose from October of 2011 by 13.6%. Overall, even though vessel imports are down in October, total U.S. imports for the year are up 2.6%, compared with January through October of 2011.
Zepol's data is derived from bills of lading entered into U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment.
Source: Zepol Corporation
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