Containerized imports to the US from Asia jumped by 28.6 percent year over year in February 2021 according to the latest data from PIERS by IHS Markit. This is the seventh consecutive monthly double-digit rise with over 1,347000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) arriving in the US from Asia. Month on month containerized imports dropped 16.7 percent from January following an import surge before factories in Asia closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.
“The unprecedented growth in containerized imports looks set to continue with early March data showed a strongly rebound as Chinese factories re-opened following the Lunar New Year break. We expect the US imports from Asia to continue on this growth path into the summer as lockdowns ease across America and shipments show no sign of slowing down.” said Brendan Neary associate director PIERS by IHS Markit
Total US containerized imports in February increased to 23 percent compared to the same time last year, according to PIERS by IHS Markit. China remains the largest source of US containerized imports, representing around 43 percent of total US imports and 64 percent of US imports from Asia.
The continued import growth is likely to intensify congestion at the US ports which had suffered worsening delays due to high volumes, COVID restrictions and labor disputes.
“The unabated demand for Chinese products, further fueled by the $1.8 trillion stimulus plan, is pushing US ports to the max, spelling continued shipment delays, and tying up equipment, which puts upward pressure on already record container rates.” said Mark Szakonyi, executive editor The Journal of Commerce by IHS Markit
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach account for half of US imports from Asia. IHS Markit port performance data showed that both ports saw in-port time for ships with workloads of more than 6,000 container moves rise from about 100 hours in H2 2019 to more than 125 hours at Long Beach and 146 hours at Los Angeles in the same period in 2020. The time is calculated from arrival at port limits to departure from berth, excluding waiting time outside the port limits.