Panjiva data shows decline in U.S. bound shipments from January to February
Data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers, found that both United States-bound waterborne shipments and the number of manufacturers shipping to the U.S. from January to February declined, following gains from December to January.
A major reason for the sequential decline was the Chinese New Year, which results in China-based factories closing for a week or more during that time of year—in January or February—which can have an adverse effect on trade data.
For U.S.-bound waterborne shipments, Panjiva reported a 20 percent decrease from January’s 1,067,355 to February’s 855,947. On an annual basis, February shipments were down 1 percent compared to February 2011’s 864,632. And sequentially, this is behind a 12 percent gain from December to January, a 7 percent decrease from November to December and a 0.2 percent gain from October to November.
On the manufacturer side, Panjva reported a 12 percent decrease in the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S., with February’s 128,244 down from January’s 145,520. Compared to February 2011, which saw 131,185 manufacturers ship to the U.S., February 2012 was down by about 2.2 percent.
Panjiva CEO Josh Green said that while the January to February shipment and manufacturer numbers were respectively down, due to the Chinese New Year, he said it is best to look at data from January and February cumulatively to see how it compares to the same period for the previous year.
“January and February [shipments] of this year is up about 2 percent annually,” said Green. “That actually is a meaningful comparison, because Chinese New Year, depending on when it falls, can push more volume into January or into February, but realistically that is not providing a real sense of the trajectory of global trade.”
Cumulative shipments for January and February 2012 came in at 1,923,302, and for January and February 2011 shipments were 1,880,486
Green added that the January to February numbers do not represent a terribly surprising decline, with the overall trajectory of trade looking decent, with March data released next month likely being a better indicator in terms of what 2012 may look like.
While trade data dipped from January to February, various signs of an economic recovery appear to remain intact, with Green noting that the vital signs of the U.S. economy, which are a driver of trade flows, appear to be in good shape.
But while the U.S. is steady for now, Green expressed caution over economic activity in China, given recent signs of softness in its economy and whether those signs will lead to a hard landing or a soft landing.
“It is too early to say what impact that has on trade flows in the short term,” explained Green.