U.S. Import Shipping News: From Data Providers Datamyne, Panjiva and PIERS

From Datamyne: Looking for Cool. Top product searches of import data focus on refrigerants. The most frequent product search of Datamyne’s US import data in December was for R134a (a.k.a. hydrofluorocarbon-134A, or HFC-134a, or 1,1,1,2–tetrafluoroethane), a refrigerant used in most car air conditioning units … until now.  In 2006, the European Union set 2011 as the deadline for phasing out R134A in new model cars. All new cars must use an alternative by 2017. This is because R134a’s global warming potential (GWP) is 1430 (1430 times the heat-trapping power of the same amount of carbon dioxide). The EU’s new limit is <150 GWP.

One potential replacement, endorsed by SAE International, the global association of technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries, is HFO-1234yf (or 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoroprop-1-ene), which  has a GWP of 4. Chemicals companies are jockeying for position in what could be the auto AC refrigerant of global choice. Interestingly, another alternative – R152a – was among Datamyne’s top 10 product searches in September, October and November (when it was number 1).

From Panjiva, courtesy of Libby Fortier, Version 2.0 Communications: December Trade Data: Seasonal Declines After The Holidays. Trade activity experienced a noticeable seasonal decline from November to December. Specifically, the number of waterborne shipments coming into the U.S. experienced a 7% month-over-month decrease from November to December. November-to-December changes have varied widely in recent years: -14% in 2010, +3% in 2009, -8% in 2008, and -3% in 2007.  The number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. dipped 4% from November to December. November-to-December changes in previous years: -9% in 2010, +3% in 2009, -5% in 2008, and -1% in 2007.

From PIERS:  U.S. Containerized Imports Grow 5% in November. U.S. containerized import volume rose 5% Y-o-Y in November, a sharp turnaround in the slumping market that was pushed by strong gains in shipments tied to the recovering housing industry, reported Mario O. Moreno, economist for PIERS/The Journal of Commerce.

Increases in home sales have buoyed the housing market, leading to a 7% November growth in shipments of furniture, a top import commodity.

“A healthy housing market is key to the revival of U.S. containerized imports growth as many of the goods consumers purchase to furnish a home are imported,” Moreno said. He pointed to additional expansion in November in cooking and heat appliances, lamps and parts, and kitchenware. Growth in these other commodities contributed to the increase in imports from China—up 4.1% Y-o-Y, the country’s first rise in eight months. Demand for local lumber was a key factor in a surprising November increase of 515% in imports from Canada.

“The question is, are we seeing a self-sustained recovery in home sales?” Moreno said. “This will depend very much on how many jobs the economy can generate every month… Over the last 12 months through November, the economy generated an average of 132,000 jobs per month (NSA). We are not there yet, but getting closer.”

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