June imports head up again, reports Panjiva

June shipments at 958,294 were up 2.8% annually, which was off from May’s 3.3% annual spread.

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United States-bound waterborne shipments showed growth for the fourth consecutive month, according to data issued this week by global trade intelligence firm Panjiva.

June shipments at 958,294 were up 2.8% annually, which was off from May’s 3.3% annual spread. This marked the fourth straight month of growth, although it was the slowest rate of expansion, save for February’s holiday-driven decline, going back to September 2016. Panjiva noted that its June data may be understated as a result of Maersk’s disruptions related to the Petya computer virus at the end of June, adding that the restated number may end up being higher.

On a year-to-date basis through June, shipments are up 3.5% at 5,346,745 compared to the first six months of 2016. Panjiva said that going back over the last six years 48.2% of full-year shipments have been completed by the end of June, with the back-end loading partly reflecting the holiday gift-giving season whose shipments begin in August and September. Should current volumes and trends hold, Panjiva expects 2017 imports to head up 3.0% to 11.47 million, which would be a new record, topping 2016’s 11.14 million.

Looking at the growth in U.S.-bound waterborne import numbers, Panjiva found that imports from the European Union were up 12.8% annually in June, following a 1.4% increase in May, while imports from China and Hong Kong rose 4.1% while Taiwan and South Korea each were down.  Growth out of Vietnam impressed, with imports up 14.4%

“The big story in June were the tariff-sensitive sectors, autos and steel,” said Panjiva Research Director Chris Rogers. “These are sectors that were maybe were targeted by the Trump administration either in their words earlier in the year or in different trade cases going on. We have seen another round of manufacturers in those industries in those industries facing the prospects of increasing tariffs and deciding to build up in-country inventories just in case. We saw that in the automotive and steel industries, which were up 9% and more than 25%, respectively.”

Conversely, Rogers said there are other industries not as concerned about increased tariffs, including more consumer-related items like apparel that has been marked down and been down for a long time, coupled with June typically not being a busy month for consumer goods unlike August and September, when things begin to heat up.

As for areas on the rise in terms of increasing volumes, Rogers cited furniture, which was up 14% annually in June, which, while impressive, could be a sign of retailers being too optimistic, he added.

Rogers said that things moved along “quite nicely” over all through the first six months of 2017, adding that barring any major unforeseen issues, 2017 should finish as another record-breaking year.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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