Panjiva reports best-ever sequential gains in March trade data for shipments and manufacturers
Coming off a decline in global trade activity, due in part to the Chinese New Year, from January to February, things took a turn for the better from February to March, according to data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers.
While the Chinese New Year led to declines from January to February because China-based factories close for a week or more during that time of year and can have an adverse effect on trade data, March got back on track, with record-high sequential increases—based on Panjiva data—for the number of United States-bound waterborne shipments and the number of manufacturers shipping to the U.S. from February to March, respectively.
For U.S.-bound waterborne shipments, Panjiva reported a 14 percent increase from February’s 855,947 to March’s 979,954. On an annual basis, March shipments were up 8 percent compared to March 2011’s 900,554. Sequentially, this is ahead of a 20 percent decrease from January to February, 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.
Panjva reported a 6 percent increase in the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S., with March’s 136,286 ahead of February’s 128,244 and down from January’s 145,520. Compared to March 2011, which saw 130,918 manufacturers ship to the U.S., March 2012 was up 3.9 percent.
In a previous interview with LM, Panjiva CEO Josh Green said that March would likely provide a better indicator of how things may play out for global trade in 2012, with Chinese New Year out of the way.
And this week he explained that one caveat when looking at March data is that there may be some after-effects from the Chinese New Year, coupled with some pent-up demand that flowed through the global trade system in March.
“There is no question that the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011 looks pretty good,” said Green. “The total number of quarterly shipments is up 4 percent annually. While these numbers are pretty good, we still want to see a couple of months of continued good news to really feel like global trade is on a positive and sustainable trajectory. But there is no question these numbers represent good news.”
Panjiva recently did a survey of its subscribers in conjunction with the Global Sourcing Council, and Green said one of the main takeaways was that global suppliers continue to think about the United States as the market they most want to penetrate.
This is especially notable, he explained, because during the recession the U.S. economy was on the decline and some economists felt that it maybe no longer was the best metric upon which to gauge economic activity.
“Now, it looks like suppliers are right to be focused on the U.S. market, because as this data shows the U.S. appears to be growing,” said Green. “Consumption is also a driver of economic growth but only one of them. Another key one is increased technology and innovation across the corporate world, which lays the foundation for sustained economic growth over time.”
Looking ahead to next month, Green said the typical sequential growth rate for global trade tends to be in the 3-to-8 percent range, noting that anything above that would be highly encouraging, whereas anything below that range may indicate trade activity is not yet on a sustained growth path.