With July 4th around the corner — and Memorial day just a month ago — we’re right in the middle of flag-flying season. And if flag imports are any measure of patriotic fervor, this year seems to be a slightly weak one. In April 2012, the U.S. imported 1 million flags at a total cost of $310,000. That’s down from nearly 2 million flags, at $520,000, for the same month last year.
The yearly flag shipment cycle rises and falls with the early summer “patriotic” holidays, and March, April, and May are peak months for imports. Yet one trend remains stable month after month: nearly all of the Stars and Stripes the U.S. imports are manufactured in China. Since 2009, China has exported $9.9 million of American flags to the U.S., which is about 90% of a total of $11 million.
In April 2012, U.S. flag imports totaled $310,000, or 1.1 million units — all of which were from China. By comparison, American flag exports of the next two biggest suppliers, India and Taiwan, totaled just 51,000 units from January-April of this year. View Panjiva’s Trendspotting report for more on American flag imports.
Believe it or not, the U.S. also exports quite a few American flags. In March of this year, the U.S. exported over $140,000 of flags, which was the second highest total after September 2009. The top buyer of U.S. flags? Mexico, by an overwhelming measure. The country south of the border has imported $720,000 of American flags since 2009. View Panjiva’s Trendspotting report for more on American flag exports.
America is in the middle of a natural gas boom, due in part to explosive growth in the shale gas industry. News reports say that the spike in natural gas production is quickly filling domestic reserves and disrupting international energy flows as other countries line up to import it. Amid all the frenzy, one thing is certain: the cost of the abundant U.S.-produced gas has been dropping.
Panjiva’s data shows that the unit cost of U.S.-exported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has decreased by more than 50% since 2010. The average cost in Q1 of this year, $150 per cubic kilometer, was less than half the average cost in Q1 2010. See Panjiva’s trendspotting report here.
With shale gas production showing no signs of slowing, analysts predict that the cost of U.S.-exported gas should keep going south. But gas exports are heavily regulated, so Washington ultimately has to decide how much it allows to be exported. Meantime, importing countries and U.S. developers eagerly await the impact that the cheap U.S. gas will have on world energy markets. Track this trend in the months ahead with Panjiva’s Trendspotting.
The word from the Panjiva research team: trade activity experienced a dip in May. Specifically, the number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 2% month-over-month decline from April to May. Previous year’s April to May changes were all positive: +8% in 2011, +12% in 2010, +2% in 2009, +3% in 2008.
The number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. went up ever so slightly — +0.4% — from April to May. April-to-May changes in previous years: +6% in 2011, +9% in 2010, +2% in 2009, and +3% in 2008.
- The percentage of significant manufacturers on the Panjiva Watch List remained at 19%.
- The percentage of significant buyers having done business with a Panjiva Watch List supplier in the preceding three months remained at 25%.
- Manufacturers that have suffered a 50% or greater decline in volume shipped to American customers in the most recent three month period, versus the same period a year ago, are on the Panjiva Watch List.
- “Significant manufacturers” are companies that have sent 10 or more shipments to American customers within the last year. As of the end of May, there were 95,374 significant manufacturers.
- “Significant buyers” are U.S. companies that have received 10 or more shipments from overseas manufacturers within the last year. As of the end of May, there were 82,174 significant buyers.