U.S. Supply Chains Challenged by Slowdown Maritime Activity

Compared to January through June of 2012, import volume is virtually stagnant.

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Amid growing concern that U.S. exports may be lagging, comes news that inbound shipments are sluggish, too.

Zepol Corporation, a leading trade intelligence company, reports that U.S. vessel imports have declined almost 3% from May to June. Imports are also 1.6% below twenty-foot containers (TEUs) seen in June of 2012.

This year, U.S. ocean imports had a steady increase of 1% compared to the volume seen in 2012, but with the low June numbers that percentage has changed. Zepol has found that in the first six months of this year, compared to January through June of 2012, import volume is virtually stagnant.

As reported in Logistics Management – a sister publication – earlier this week, maritime analysts have observed that the Obama Administration may be failing in its mission to generate U.S. exports.

“The month-to-month dips and jumps seen from imports in 2013 have averaged out to be pretty average indeed,” said Zepol’s CEO Paul Rasmussen, “The first half of the year posted container volume to match that of 2012. Although, 2013 still has the potential to rise above in July and August, which are the busiest months for U.S. imports.” 

U.S imports from Asia are down 1.5% from May and another 1.2% for the first half of the year. Imports from China are down a half a percentage so far in 2013 along with South Korea, which decreased 2.8% and Japan another 6%. Exports from Europe have declined by 7.6% from last month but are up 0.6% for the first half of the year. German exports to the United States have declined 0.4% from 2012, but Italy has increased 5.3% this year.

Compared to the first half of 2012, the Port of Los Angeles is down in TEU volume by 9.3%. The Ports of Newark and New York have also dropped about 5% for the first half of the year. Savannah, the fourth busiest port, is down 3%, although the Port of Norfolk, Virginia, increased in TEU volume by 4.8%, which maintains its spot from 2012 as the fifth busiest port. (You can read more about the top 20 U.S. ports for 2012 in this report

Maersk Line, the top carrier in the United States, decreased in TEUs by 8.4% from last year and Mediterranean Shipping Company also decreased in cargo by nearly 2%. Although, two top carriers increased for the first half of the year. Evergreen Line and APL Co. both posted increases of 2% and 9%, respectively.

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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