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April 2021 is busiest ever for US containerized imports from Asia

May 21st, 2021

Containerized imports to the US from Asia jumped by 31 percent from the same month in 2020 and up 27.4 percent from April 2019, according to PIERS, by IHS Markit. With 1.57 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) arriving in the US from Asia, April 2021 was the busiest April on record and the 10th consecutive month of year-over-year growth. Imports from China were particularly strong with an increase of 40.2 percent from April 2020, contributing to growing import volumes at US West Coast ports.

“The container import boom shows no sign of slowing as lockdown eases and spending on consumer goods, especially online shopping. This high volume is set to stay with us for the months ahead as the economy recovers.” said Brendan Neary associate director PIERS by IHS Markit

Total US containerized imports in April increased by 28.4 percent compared to the same time last year, according to PIERS. China remains the largest source of US containerized imports, representing around 40.5 percent of total US imports.

“The latest import volume along with discussions The Journal of Commerce is having with major container lines, forwarders and port operators suggest that container shipping capacity is only going to get tighter in the coming weeks as retailers bring in traditional peak season volumes to support the winter holiday shopping season. The unrelenting import volumes will add pressure on seaports and inland rail hubs, delaying cargoes and raising total shipping costs.” said Mark Szakonyi, executive editor The Journal of Commerce by IHS Markit

Imports from Asia in the Los Angeles-Long Beach gateway in January through April totaled 3.1 million TEU, an increase of 46 percent from the same period last year. US East Coast ports, which handle a larger volume of imports from Southeast Asia via the Suez Canal, saw their market share from Asia drop slightly to 33 percent in the first four months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.
Source: IHS Markit