US imports 2022 

US imports in 2022 are even higher than the pre-pandemic level. Every month in 2022 has been a record month compared to previous years for US ports. Moreover, July was the third-busiest month of 2022 so far in the eastbound trans-Pacific. Why are US imports 2022 so high? 

US imports 2022 

US imports totaled 2.53 million 20ft equivalent units in July 2022. They were up 3% year-on-year, which also means that they were up 15% compared to the pre-pandemic level (July 2019). It was the best July on record and the fifth-highest volume ever recorded. The numbers were high despite canceled orders amounting to billions of dollars. Near all-time import highs contributed to long queues of waiting ships. Wait times for ships make managing supply chain performance challenging. 

US imports in TEU
US imports 2019-mid 2022 in TEU, data: Descartes

July 2022 was also a record month for imports from China within the same year. Chinese goods accounted for 75% of the year-on-year TEU increase in the US (totaling 994,927 TEUs). 

Check how to clear Chinese goods in the US

It is said that inflation, slowing economy, and high fuel costs have not had such a negative impact as anticipated. As a result, the top 10 US ports were up 0.7% y-o-y in July 2022. While the biggest Gulf Coast and East Coast ports’ imports rose by 6.6%, imports at West Coast ports declined by 4.9%. For example, The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), a partnership between the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma, has seen decreased import TEU volumes in July by 30.4%. The growth is dampened by: 

  • import dwell time causing congestion 
  • port congestion in Asia (linked to COVID-19 restrictions) 
  • supply chain bottlenecks 
  • no capacity to meet demand at regional warehouses. 

What does the future hold for US imports? 

Although imports in August 2022 may not be as high as in the previous month, ports with large ship queues like New York/New Jersey, Georgia, Savannah, and Houston have strong import volumes because of cargo backlogs offshore. US imports are expected to slow for the rest of 2022 but still be higher than 2021 numbers. 

Retail US imorts
Data and forecast for the US ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami, and Jacksonville on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast. Data: NRF/Hackett Associates Global Port Tracker

Many US ports, especially the biggest ports in the US, are about to hit the capacity ceiling. Port congestion is a significant issue, and it will remain that way until some changes are introduced to the infrastructure. New container terminals or new container ports even are the solution—this way, growing demand and volume growth can be handled in the US effectively. 

See the top container ports 2022

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