US imports have fallen back to pre-epidemic levels, and it is expected that the year-on-year decline will be 22% in the first half of the year

US imports expected to decline 22% YoY in H1 and have returned to pre-epidemic levels

According to the latest monthly global port tracking report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, imports at major US container ports are expected to drop 22% compared to the same period last year in the first half of 2023.

The report comes amid disruptions at West Coast ports, where cargo operations have been disrupted due to a failure to reach a new labor agreement between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) after more than a year of negotiations.

“Retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year, and the last thing they want is a continuing disruption at the ports,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy.

If the PMA and ILWU cannot reach an agreement and operate efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to ship goods to ports on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico, Gold added.

Following the shutdown of terminals at the Port of Oakland and Port of Long Beach on Monday, June 5th, the NRF urged the White House to intervene in the labor negotiations at West Coast ports. “We will continue to urge the government to help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruption at the ports so that they can resume normal operations,” said Gold. “We have experienced inevitable supply chain problems over the past two years, and now we cannot avoid them.”

Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates, pointed out that “the decline in container imports now runs counter to the sustained growth in consumer demand. Although strong employment and personal income growth have fueled consumer spending, container import volumes have only recovered to 2019 levels and are not expected to grow in the short term.”

A report shows that in April, US ports handled a total of 1.78 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), an increase of 9.6% compared to March, but a drop of 21.3% compared to the same period last year.

The data for May has not been reported yet, but “Global Port Tracker” predicts a decrease of 23% to 1.84 million TEUs compared to the same period last year. June is expected to be 1.91 million TEUs, a decrease of 15.3% compared to the same month last year. Overall, in the first half of 2023, major container ports in the United States will handle 10.5 million TEUs, a decrease of 22.3% compared to the first half of 2022.

Translator: Nicole/AMZ123

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