Record Year Ahead? U.S. Imports Boom as Protectionism Remains Bottled | — Panjiva

Record Year Ahead? U.S. Imports Boom as Protectionism Remains Bottled

  • By Christopher Rogers
  • · October 13, 2017
  • ·

The U.S. trade boom looks set to have continued in September. Panjiva data shows seaborne import shipments climbed 4.9% on a year earlier. That’s an acceleration from August’s 2.2% expansion, and suggests the disruptions from Hurricane Irma early in the month were rapidly recovered. It was also was the seventh straight month of growth, and the 14th in the past 15.


Chart shows total U.S. seaborne shipments. Note data is provisional due to late reporting shippers Source: Panjiva

The fastest growing supplier nation continued to be Vietnam, with an 11.5% increase on a year earlier and 15.5% over the prior quarter. Seaborne shipments from Mexico climbed 12.3%, though this likely also reflects shipments that may have been disrupted by storms the month earlier, or have had to move by sea due to earthquake damage to infrastructure.

Imports from China and Hong Kong also continued their surge, rising by 8.2%. The lack of any sign of a slowdown will likely overshadow President Trump’s forthcoming visit to China, as outlined in Panjiva research of September 26. Other Asian countries did less well, with a sustained decline in shipments from Taiwan, Singapore and Japan.


Chart segments U.S. imports by sea by country of origin. Bubble size indicates total shipments. Source: Panjiva

Among the major consumer sectors furniture continued its rapid growth, with a 13.7% expansion vs. a year earlier. The outlook for the holiday season may not be bright – toy shipments fell 10.2%. That may reflect a decision to delay imports even further this year. The financial struggles at Toys ’R’ Us potentially exacerbate that trend as suppliers take a more conservative approach to providing inventory.

The tariff-sensitive steel sector also continued to grow, with an 8.3% rise in shipments making the seventh straight month of growth. Action by the administration on tariffs on a broad basis has been delayed until after tax reform has been passed and shipments may therefore not fall in the near-term. By contrast imports of autos and parts fell 0.9%, the first decline after five months of growth.


Data for shipments segmented by HS code for furnishings (HS 9401/3), autos and parts (8703/8), apparel (61-64), toys (9504), steel (72,73) and oil (2709). Note data is provisional due to late reporting shippers. Source: Panjiva

Three quarters of the way through the year it still appears that 2017 will represent a record year, with year-to-date shipments implying a 3.1% growth to 11.49 million shipments this year. Continued optimism from supply chain managers and continued delays in tariff implementation on a broad-based basis may overcome a recent slowdown in consumer confidence (based on Bloomberg figures).


U.S. seaborne shipment data segmented by month Source: Panjiva


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