U.S. Containerized Imports Grew 3 Percent in 2011

Year Ends on Upturn, Expansion in Home Sales Market Vital for Sustained Growth, Cautions Economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS

Feb 06, 2012, 12:22 ET from UBM Global Trade

NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. containerized imports closed 2011 with a surge, with goods related to the recovering housing and auto markets pushing inbound volume up 3 percent year-over-year in December, according to figures from The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.

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The growth marked a rebound from weakness earlier in the fall and lifted containerized imports for the year up 3 percent over 2010 and 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter over the same period last year. The Journal of Commerce/PIERS Economist Mario O. Moreno remains cautious in his outlook for 2012, despite the late-year growth.

A pick-up in sales of existing homes supported a 5 percent upswing (to 144,679 20-foot equivalent units) in U.S. furniture imports. Growth in the manufacturing sector also pushed auto parts imports up 19 percent, driving December increases in imports from Germany and Mexico. Requests for the import or return from Mexico of empty containers, for U.S. export and domestic use, rose by 264 percent.

"The overall economy continues to recover in a stubbornly slow fashion, which makes it highly vulnerable to shocks," Moreno said. "The auto industry cannot by itself sustain the import trade, but a steady, self-sustained recovery in home sales is decidedly required to support growth going forward." Moreno's 2012 container imports forecast remains cautiously at 2.5 to 3.5 percent, despite fourth quarter data above his earlier predictions.

On a month-over-month basis, overall U.S. containerized imports fell 11.7 percent in December.

A full analysis of the JOC/PIERS findings is available online at www.joc.com.

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SOURCE UBM Global Trade