Imports Unusually High in February: Zepol

U.S. vessel imports for February were up 15.3% compared to last year and haven’t been this high since 2008.

U.S. vessel imports in February were down 5% from January but up 15% from February of 2012, even with one less day this year, according to Zepol Corp., which tracks U.S. trade data. The total TEU (twenty-foot-container) count was over 1.4 million and total shipments were over 720,000.

February imports have not reached this level for four years, Zepol noted. The company said it appears that import levels are reverting back to the numbers seen before the recession.

“Total imports for January and February of 2013 are almost 7% higher compared to the same time last year,” stated Paul Rasmussen, Zepol’s CEO and a U.S. trade expert.“It will be interesting to see if this holds true for the remainder of quarter one as the data for March comes in… We may be looking at a stronger year for imports than expected.”

Zepol offered this snapshot of import activity:

Exporting Countries -- The import surge from last February to this year was mainly seen from Asia and Europe which saw increases from February 2012 by 20.8% and 8%, respectively. China was the main source of goods from Asia and increased from last February by 34%; it was even within four points of January TEUs. Some European countries not only posted significant increases from 2012, but actually rose from January including Germany, which increased 18.3% and the Netherlands, which rose 12.3% from last month.

U.S. Ports -- The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach decreased slightly from January, as expected, but skyrocketed in import volume from last February. L.A. rose 19.8% from this time last year and Long Beach had a 56% increase, bringing in over 100,000 more TEUs in 2013 than February of 2012.

Carriers -- As for the vessels that haul all these containers to the United States, Maersk Line was the only one of the top 10 to increase in TEU volume from January to February. Maersk rose by 7.7% this month and also increased from last February by 9%. APL and Mediterranean Shipping Co. were the second and third largest carriers this month and decreased from January by 14% and 1%, respectively. However, these carriers increased from last year by 13.8% and 20.2%.

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