Zepol Reports U.S. Vessel Imports are Down 3 Percent

In 2010 and 2011, August was actually the peak month of the year for TEU imports.

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Zepol Corporation, a leading trade intelligence company, reports that U.S. import shipment volume for August, measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), is down from July by 3 percent and 0.3 percent from August of 2011. It’s unusual to see a drop in imports from July to August, since the trend for the past three years has been a spike in the month of August. In 2010 and 2011, August was actually the peak month of the year for TEU imports.

“The lower August numbers could be due to early holiday purchases in July, which saw abnormally high TEU numbers,” states Zepol’s CEO Paul Rassmussen, “but may also have to do with the potential for labor strikes at east coast ports from the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance.”

Although, there are speculations that the strike will not affect import volume and that September will be a major month for U.S. imports. Zepol’s U.S. Customs data shows that TEU imports for the 12 days in September are 10 percent higher than the 12 days of September in 2011. Jon Monroe, a maritime consultant, told SCMR that even the threat of a strike has diverted port calls.

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

Exporting Countries- The majority of Asian countries saw a drop in shipments to the United States from July to August. China decreased in TEUs by a small 0.59 percent, but South Korea and Singapore each had a much steeper drop of over 10 percent. On the other hand, Germany and Italy, the two largest European exporting countries to the United States, both saw an increase in TEUs to the United States by 1.9 percent and 3.4 percent , respectively.

U.S. Ports- Seven of the top ten U.S. ports posted decreases in TEU imports for August. The Port of Los Angeles, the busiest U.S. port so far this year, decreased from July by 3.9 percent and the Port of Oakland had a similar story for August with a 7 percent decrease in TEU volume. The Port of Savannah, however, had a fairly significant increase in imports from July by 7.6 percent and was the United States’ fourth busiest port in August.

Carriers-Many VOCCs (vessel-operating common carriers) were down in TEU imports from July to August. Maersk Line had a dip of 5.6 percent and APL Group also decreased in imports by 3.6 percent. Three of the top ten VOCCs had an increase in shipments, including Mediterranean Shipping Company which rose 7 percent and Evergreen Line which was up 3 percent.


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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