U.S. containerized imports showed positive growth year-to-date ending August 2010, according to PIERS. An analysis of the data reveals that the U.S. containerized imports grew 15 percent year-to-date (10,846,000 TEUs) with China tracking as the lead source country. Yet, while containerized import growth is expected to continue this year, a slowdown appears to be on the horizon.
Of the 173 countries with import activity in the PIERS database, China ships more containerized imports to the U.S. than any other country. From January through August, 2010, the U.S. sourced 48 percent of its containerized imports from China, that is, 5.3 million TEUs, up by 17.8 percent from a year earlier. In August, containerized imports from China surged by 23.5 percent compared to August 2009.
Other top source countries following at a distant second and third place are South Korea and Japan, at 4 percent and 3 percent respectively. South Korea, with the highest growth rate year-to-date at 38 percent, shipped 419,000 TEUs, displacing Japan's 372,000 inbound TEUs to the third place. South Korea's rapid ascend was boosted by unfavorable exchange rates as the Korean Won lost 4 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar, while the Japanese Yen gained 9 percent in value. "A weak Korean Won combined with a strong Japanese Yen, makes Korea more attractive to the U.S. as Japan and Korea export similar goods," said Mario Moreno, PIERS Economist.
Additionally, Moreno, forecasts a strong growth rate for U.S. containerized imports in 2010. "I expect a growth rate of 15.5 percent in 2010 before slowing down to 4.9 percent in 2011. The decline is attributed to several factors, notably a sustained, uncomfortably high unemployment rate."
When analyzing the data from a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) perspective, Vietnam, followed by China and India, have been the fastest growing source countries over a seven year period beginning in 2003. Vietnam rose swiftly in the rankings at 20%, mostly due to its manufacturing sector. China and India grew 6 percent and 4 percent respectively. Vietnam's rise is attributed to its manufacturing sector, particularly footwear and apparel.