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Hurricane Sandy on the east coast and labor strikes on the west certainly played a large factor in the import slump. For the last two years, November imports have been over 1.4 million TEUs, though this year's patterns have been changing. So far in 2012, the peak in imports has shifted to earlier in the summer and there hasn't been a rise in imports month-over-month since July.
A Closer Look at U.S. Imports for November:
1. Exporting Countries - Imports from Asia dropped significantly in November, which is a major contributor to the fall in U.S. imports. China and South Korea, the top Asian exporters to the United States, decreased from October by 18.2% and 21.1%, respectively. Unlike most regions, Europe actually increased in vessel exports to the United States by 4.5% from October. Germany rose 4.8% and Italy increased 13% in November. Similar increases were also seen from Belgium and Spain, but for some reason the United Kingdom dropped from October by nearly 6%.
2. U.S. Ports - The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach both had major decreases in TEUs from October. This was partly due to the lack of imports in general, but also because of labor strikes occurring at both pacific ports. The port of Newark and New York actually rose in imports from October by 1.9% and was the only port in the top 10 to see a notable increase for the month.
3. Carriers - Ocean carriers are singing the same tune as everything else in November with large decreases coming from all of the top 20. Maersk Line, the leading carrier of U.S. imports, dropped in TEUs by 6.6%. Mediterranean Shipping and APL Co. also decreased in TEUs by 10.3% and 14%, respectively. It's not apparent why imports are so low in November and it will be interesting to see if this declining trend will stick around in December.
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 Corp.
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