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February 3 2020

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16 The Journal of Commerce | Februar y 3 2020 International Maritime US IMPORTS FROM Asia declined year- over-year in 2019 for the first time in a decade as the trade war drove an almost 10 percent drop in Chinese imports that easily overcame growth in sourcing from Southeast Asia. Imports are expected to decline further in January and February before turning higher in March, said Daniel Hackett, a maritime and trade consultant and co-author with the National Retail Federation of the monthly Global Port Tracker. But the growth this spring will be due primar - ily to the timing of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Asia, which will take place almost two weeks earlier than last year, rather than to a surge in demand, he said. In fact, Hackett expects stagnant import volumes in the first half of 2020 and a downtick of 1 percent in the third quarter. Depending upon how the US-China trade war plays out this year, Hackett does not antic - ipate a "return to normalcy" until the fourth quarter. "We hope that cooler heads will prevail," he told The Jour- nal of Commerce on Jan. 17. US imports from Asia last year fell 2.2 percent to 16.55 million TEU from 16.92 million TEU in 2018, after increasing 7.6 percent year over year in 2018, according to PIERS, a sister prod - uct of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit. Import growth had been pulling back for much of 2019 before turning negative in October. Imports from Asia declined 10.4 percent in October, 9.4 percent in November, and 17 percent from December compared to the same months in 2018. US imports from China were hit especially hard in 2019, declining 9.8 percent to 10.5 million TEU from 11.7 million TEU in 2018. Retailers and manufacturers last year, spooked by the trade war, shifted some of their sourcing from China to Southeast Asia. Excluding China, US imports from Asia increased 14.8 percent in 2019, according to PIERS. For the past 10 years, ports and car- riers had assumed that import growth from Asia and China, the engines of the trans-Pacific trade, would con- tinue uninterrupted. The 2008-2009 global economic recession marked the last interruption in what had been steady growth in eastbound trans- Pacific container volumes since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001. Imports from Asia in 2009 declined 14.2 percent, while imports from China dropped 12.4 percent, according to PIERS data. Importing & Exporting | Ports | Carriers | Breakbulk | Global Logistics Casualties of war Trade war drives first year-over-year drop in US imports from Asia in a decade By Bill Mongelluzzo US imports from Asia fell 2.2 percent to 16.55 million TEU in 2019, the first year-over-year decline since 2009. Ritu Manoj Jethani / -0.8% +4.1% +7.7% +0.3% +6.7% +16.6% +7.8% +21.9% +5.5% -7.1% -0.1% +5.6% +5.3% -0.5% +4.7% +2.1% +2.5% -10.4% -9.4% -17% 1,000,000 1,100,000 1,200,000 1,300,000 1,400,000 1,500,000 1,600,000 1,700,000 May- 18 Jun- 18 Jul-18 Aug- 18 Sep- 18 Oct-18 Nov- 18 Dec- 18 Jan- 2019 Feb-19 Mar-19 Apr-19 May- 19 Jun- 19 Jul-19 Aug- 19 Sep- 19 Oct-19 Nov- 19 Dec- 19 TEU US imports from Asia plunge in 2019 Source: IHS Markit © 2019 IHS Markit Volume of US laden container imports from Asia with year-over-year change

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