US container imports reflect pre-pandemic trends

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US container imports in April 2023 were significantly higher than the previous month, tracing trends seen in the pre-pandemic market.

According to a report by Descartes, imports in April 2023 were 9.0% higher than in March 2023 as volumes from China increased. Volumes in April 2023 were down 17.8% YoY as the market normalization that unfolded in the second half of 2022 continues to be reflected in the monthly and year-on-year figures.

Imports from China were 742,692 TEU, up 26.7% month-on-month, accounting for 36.8% of US container imports in March.

Descartes noted a return to pre-pandemic seasonality in the first four months of 2023, with imports matching 2019 levels by a 1.5% margin.

Among the top 10 US ports, overall imports rose 10.9%, led by a 54,466 TEU or 19.3% increase in the Port of New York/New Jersey, followed by Savannah with a 24,923 TEU or 14 increase .6%.

“This growth is somewhat counterintuitive as volumes have increased dramatically in China, which should benefit West Coast ports,” Descartes said.

The report also found that large ports continue to take market share from smaller ports.

The usual seasonality of container traffic has been disrupted globally by the pandemic and prolonged by widespread supply chain congestion. Port delays continue to improve, the report says, with average transit delays falling for all top 10 ports, reaching the lowest level since at least 2021.

US import volumes started to rise sharply in the second half of 2020, bucking the usual trend of slowing down from around August. Volumes remained inflated before falling back in the second half of 2022; By November, imports had reached levels close to pre-pandemic levels.

Source: News Network

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