• ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
American ShipperShipping

West Coast port disruption hits U.S. container trade volumes

Economist revised forecasts, predicting lower import growth and a second year of declines in exports.

   Container trade to and from the U.S. in 2015 will grow much more slowly than last year, in part because of the effect of congestion and labor turmoil at West Coast ports, according to Mario Moreno, an economist for the JOC and IHS.
   Last year U.S. containerized seaport volumes grew 6 percent, “but the outlook for 2015 looks less bright,” despite an upturn in the U.S. economy and accelerated home building and consumer spending, said Moreno at the TPM transpacific maritime conference in Long Beach on Monday. He also noted automakers are benefiting from pent up demand for motor vehicles in the U.S., and that automobile parts are the second largest containerized import commodity.
   Moreno downgraded his forecast for U.S. import growth from 6.8 percent to 1.7 percent, noting that January imports were down 10 percent from January 2014 and “the numbers for February will be no less disappointing.” He said diversions to western Canadian and Mexican ports as well as increased use of air cargo will restrain container import growth in the first half of the year.
   He added that by the end of 2015, China will account for about 64.7 percent of imports from the Far East and that share is about the same as in 2007, as more production moves to lower cost countries such as Vietnam.
   Imports from the Far East/Asia, which grew 5.7 percent last year will grow just 1.6 percent in 2015, he predicts, a downgrade of his earlier forecast of 6.8 percent
   While imports will benefit from the stronger dollar, this will hurt exports, noted Moreno. In addition to lost trade because of the West Coast port situation, he said exporters will see weak demand from Europe and emerging Asia, including a decelerating Chinese economy.
   Moreno forecasts that U.S. containerized exports will be down for the second year in a row. Containerized exports from the U.S. will drop 4.4 percent in 2015, on top of a 2.4 decline in 2014. Exports to the Far East will be down 4.9 percent in 2015 compared to a 3 percent decline in 2014.
   Because of delays of moving cargo at West Coast ports, he noted that some fruits and other cargoes were spoiled by the time they arrived at Asian ports.
   “This lack of dependability will cost dearly to the U.S. exporter in the short run, as global buyers search for more reliable sourcing alternatives,” he said.
   On the other hand, he said the global economic activity is expected to gradually accelerate this year, supported by lower oil prices and accommodating monetary policies.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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