US import likely to tumble 22% in 1H
Import cargo volume at the nation’s major container ports is expected to be 22% lower during the first half of 2023 than the same time last year despite increased consumer spending, according to the Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. The report comes amid disruptions at West Coast ports but the incidents have not yet been widespread enough to be reflected in nationwide data.
NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways.
We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”
NRF earlier this week issued a statement calling on the Biden administration to intervene following reports of disruptions at terminals at the Ports of Oakland and Long Beach. The disruptions have come as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have failed to reach a new labor agreement after more than a year of negotiations.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said, noting that spending has been bolstered by strong employment numbers and increases in personal income. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
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