Inbound ocean cargo containers hit seasonal slump

According to trade analysts, this is not a surprise due to February’s low numbers.

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Zepol Corporation reported last week that U.S. import shipment volume for March, measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), increased 11.9 percent from February.

According to analysts at this trade intelligence service, this is not a surprise due to February’s low numbers. More significant, they said, is the total 2.6 percent rise in TEUs for Q1 of 2012, compared to Q1 of 2011, as well as the 6.2 percent rise this March from March of 2011. In addition, Q1 of 2012 outpaced the first-quarter numbers for the past three years.

U.S. imports from China had a spike in TEUs of 12.3 percent from February, but dropped from January by 20 percent. Total TEU imports from China for Q1 of 2012 were up by a mere 0.1 percent from Q1 of 2011. However, a more notable increase came from Germany, which rose 20 percent in March from February. Imports from Germany also had a significant increase of 15.4 percent in Q1 of 2012 from Q1 of 2011.

The majority of inbound cargo to U.S. ports rose in March from February, but failed to surpass January TEUs. The Port of Los Angeles increased in imports by 22.4 percent from February, but is down 10.6 percent from January.

Maritime director, Kraig Jondle, Director of Business and Trade Development told LM that this is not much of a concern.

“It’s encouraging see that exports are ramping up,” he said, “but we are forecasting a steady increase in inbound calls, too.

Similarly, the Port of Long Beach rose in March by 26.8 percent but was still lower than January imports by 13 percent. Many U.S. ports saw a small increase in TEU imports for Q1 of 2012 compared to Q1 of 2011. Ports worth mentioning are the Port of Houston and the Port of Charleston, which both rose over 11 percent in Q1, and were the only ports in the top-ten-list to show increases over 10 percent.

For Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (VOCCs), there were few that rose in TEU imports from February and almost all were down from January numbers. Evergreen Line decreased 12.9 percent from February and 13 percent from January. Conversely, Mediterranean Shipping Company increased 13.7 percent from February and 2.4 percent from January, the only top-ten VOCC to rise from January imports in March. For Q1 of 2012, Maersk Line spiked 20.6 percent from Q1 of 2011 and China Ocean Shipping Company also saw a large increase of 16.2 percent for Q1.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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