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            june 17, 2019

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US import trade starts recovery ahead of summer season


Major container ports in the US are starting to see import traffic recover in the run-up to the peak summer shipping season and are forecast to climb to the two million-TEU mark by August, according to Global Port Tracker, published by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
US ports covered in the report handled an estimated 1.63 million TEU in March, a 5.9 per cent year-on-year increase and a turnaround from a slow February, which saw volumes drop four per cent to 1.62 million TEU.
April is forecast at 1.75 million TEU, up 6.9 per cent; May at 1.9 million TEU, a four per cent increase; and June at 1.89 million TEU, up two per cent, reported American Shipper.
"Retailers are starting to stock up in anticipation of a strong summers," said NRF vice president Jonathan Gold. "Tariff increases are on hold and progress is being reported in talks between the United States and China, so the imports we're seeing now are driven primarily by expectations for consumer demand."
Imports in 2018 rose by 6.2 per cent to a record of 21.8 million TEU. The first half of 2019 is forecast to total 10.7 million TEU, representing 3.7 growth over the first half of 2018, NRF said.
"The US consumer, while more cautious, has not stopped spending," said Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. "The inventory-to-sales ratio, however, is on the rise. Part of this can be attributed to the heavy front-loading of imports ahead of expected tariff increases that took place in 2018."

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