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Increase in U.S. Container Import Volumes Makes 2023 Look More Like 2019

Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its February Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. The report shows that January U.S. container import volumes increased from December to more tightly align with January 2019 levels. Port delays continue to decrease for top East and Gulf Coast ports but not for top West Coast ports. Key indicators during this period point to stronger than anticipated economic activity. This could impact future container import volumes but, combined with COVID, the Russia/Ukraine conflict and the West Coast labor situation, continue to highlight potential disruptions that could make for challenging global supply chain performance in 2023.

January 2023 U.S. container import volumes increased 7.2% from December 2022 to 2,068,493 TEUs (see Figure 1). Versus January 2022, TEU volume was down 16.1%, but only 0.3% lower than pre-pandemic January 2019. While the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday occurred in January, its impact on container import volumes won’t be felt until late February and early March 2023.

Figure 1. U.S. Container Import Volume Year-over-Year Comparison

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“Comparing January 2023 import volume to growth of the previous five years, the 7.2% increase can be considered significant (see Figure 2) and Chinese imports rebounded with even stronger growth,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry & Services at Descartes. “The January U.S. container import data shows some stability, but a number of issues continue to point to challenging global supply chain performance in 2023.”

Figure 2: December to January U.S. Container Import Volume Comparison

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Source: Descartes Datamyne™

The February report is Descartes’ nineteenth installment since beginning its analysis in August 2021. To read past reports, learn more about the key economic and logistics factors driving the global shipping crisis, and review strategies to help address it in the near-, short- and long-term, visit Descartes’ Global Shipping Resource Center.

About Descartes

Descartes is the global leader in providing on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions focused on improving the productivity, performance and security of logistics-intensive businesses. Customers use our modular, software-as-a-service solutions to route, schedule, track and measure delivery resources; plan, allocate and execute shipments; rate, audit and pay transportation invoices; access global trade data; file customs and security documents for imports and exports; and complete numerous other logistics processes by participating in the world’s largest, collaborative multimodal logistics community. Our headquarters are in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and we have offices and partners around the world.

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