July U.S-bound shipments are solid, and August looks better, reports Panjiva

3PL Features Global Trade Logistics News

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Data recently issued by global trade intelligence firm Panjiva showed that United States-bound waterborne shipments grew for the fifth consecutive month.

July shipments at 1,032,065 saw a 5.7% annual gain, outpacing annual gains for 2.8% and 3.3% for June and May, respectively. This represents the fifth consecutive month of growth, as well as being the second month ever, along with August 2016, to top the 1 million-shipment mark and the 11th annual increase over the last 12 months.

Panjiva noted in the report that July’s shipment tally is not considered surprising as import expectations for American companies are at their highest level since November 2014.

On a year-to-date basis through July, shipments are up 3.9% annually at 6,568,229.

“These are good numbers, but what we cannot see through trade data if this is being driven by gains in retail spending with more consumers shopping or increased orders or companies trying to pre-empt whatever the next trade policy from the Trump administration may be,” said Panjiva Research Director Chris Rogers in an interview.  “This is as things get closer to the NAFTA renegotiation or Trump taking action on China, which has happened over the past couple of days. But those things will take a long time to work through.” 

Importers being proactive in advance of potential tariffs are one driver, and a strong underlying economy both are factors in these gains, coupled with gains in the import base in furniture and apparel, which has been in a downturn, with Rogers calling the gains broad-based.

Looking at August, Rogers noted it could be an all-time record month for imports, as well for full-year 2017.

“On the basis of what we are seeing at the moment, August looks very promising and 2017 could end up being up 3.1% annually at 11,487,891, with 57.2% of full year shipments normally done by end of July,” he said. “Things were muddled last year close to this point because of the Hanjin bankruptcy, but that does not necessarily mean things are guaranteed to be sunny across the board. You cannot rule out small things like an off month at a U.S. port as well as issues in other global ports too.”

Along with U.S. trade policy shifts and China, Rogers said that NAFTA will require a watchful eye going forward, even though it will not reach a conclusion this year. 

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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