Zepol's Blog of U.S. Imports and Exports

Are Imports Moving to the East Coast?

Imports Shift East Graphic Map

The answer, yes. Zepol found that a hefty chunk of businesses have switched from using Pacific to Atlantic and Gulf ports this year. Total imports along the East Coast have increased by 15 percent, while import traffic on the West Coast is down 4 percent.

It’s crazy to think that freight going all the way from Asia to Eastern and Gulf ports is the best option for some importers, but China is actually the main instigator behind the supply chain shift. Imports from China along the West Coast declined by 3 percent, but Chinese imports on the East Coast continue to skyrocket. Atlantic ports increased containers from China by 20 percent this year, and Gulf ports by a more dramatic 43 percent.

“Shipments are setting sail for Eastern ports even before the Panama Canal expansion is complete,” explains Zepol’s CEO, and trade data expert, Paul Rasmussen. “Shippers may be fed up with West Coast backups, and with carriers adding more lines from Asia to the East Coast, it’s hard to blame them.”

The ports of Newark/New York, Savannah, and Houston had the highest increase in imports for the first half of 2015 (compared with the same time in 2014). The Port of Newark/New York increased in imports by 12 percent, Savannah rose by 32 percent, and Houston by another 26 percent. The port of Houston also had a huge surge in containers from China. The port brought in 53 percent more Chinese containers already this year.

Below is table of the top 10 ports' import volume in 2015 compared with 2014 (Jan-June)

US Port TEUs
(Jan-June 2015)
(Jan-June 2014)
% Change
Los Angeles, CA 1,944,277 2,054,137 -5%
Long Beach, CA 1,640,322 1,699,209 -3%
Newark/ New York 1,578,021 1,409,863 12%
Savannah, GA 816,585 616,948 32%
Norfolk, VA 512,914 460,186 11%
Houston, TX 452,998 359,904 26%
Charleston, SC 411,848 360,886 14%
Tacoma, WA 404,478 393,006 3%
Oakland, CA 383,456 400,140 -4%
Seattle, WA 252,838 238,576 6%
All Others 1,407,117 1,327,942 6%
TOTAL 9,804,857 9,320,797 5%

Data Note: The data in this report does not include empty containers, or shipments labeled as ‘freight remaining on board,’ and may contain other data anomalies.

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Big Changes in Oil Imports 2015 | Infographic

Oil Imports Decline Infographic 2015 Statistics

It’s no surprise that the United States has reduced its volume of oil imports over the last few years. The initiation of new fracking technology has enabled the industry to produce a surplus of local reserves. But what is a shocker is how drastic the further decline of petroleum imports has been already in 2015.

Compared with 2014 (January through April), U.S. oil imports have declined by 45 percent this year; the total value of imports shrunk from $117 billion in 2014 to just $64 billion in 2015. Total barrels imported of crude oil also dropped by over 55 million in 2015, or 6 percent less than 2014.

Another big change for petroleum imports is where it's coming from. The market share has shifted for the top five countries exporting oil to the United States. Mainly, a 7 percent larger chunk is coming from Canada and now less of the pie is from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico.

Though, America is purchasing fewer amounts oil from nearly every country. Year-to-date, the United States has imported 33 percent less oil from Canada, 65 percent less from Saudi Arabia, 48 percent less from Venezuela (by total value), and the list goes on.

The top two leading petroleum imports, by HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) code, have also seen an incredible decline. The number one HTS code 2709.00.1000 (petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals testing under 25 degrees API) has decreased imports this year by 41 percent and the number two HTS code 2709.00.2090 (petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals testing over 25 degrees API) declined an even higher 56 percent.

Overall, U.S. oil imports in 2015 have already seen some big changes. Check out the infographic above to see more data on oil imports in 2015 from Zepol. Stay tuned for U.S oil export data.

California Drought Impacts Almond Import Prices

Almond Imports California Drought Image

According to the USDA almonds are the third-largest agricultural product grown in California and a multi-billion dollar cash crop for the state. Unfortunately its intense 4-year drought has damaged crop production and even sparked its farming industry to voluntarily cut water-usage by 25 percent. Most people are unaware that California provides 80 percent of the world’s almond supply, but with the worst drought in history impacting the region, trade is suffering.

International exporters from mainly Australia, Spain, and Italy have taken advantage of the shortage and jacked up almond prices. Zepol’s data shows that the average price per kilogram of imported almonds has exploded in the last year. In the first quarter of 2014, U.S. almond imports were $3.91 per kilogram. Now in the first quarter of 2015, the average price per kilogram has reached $11.44, nearly triple the cost.

View the graph below to see the change in cost of almond imports from 2012-2015.

Almond import price increases from drought graph

Not only has the cost of imported almonds expanded but also the sheer volume of imports. In 2011, the United States imported about 3.8 million kilograms of almonds but in 2014 imports grew to over 22.6 million kilograms. With the way the water supply is going, it looks like the surge in imports will continue.

California’s fertile landscape is home to dozens of other major cash crops for the nation including grapes, hay, lettuce, walnuts, and more. International trade for these products could also be affected by the severe water shortage. To search for alternative suppliers and buyers for these crops, or simply find more information, search Zepol’s data in a Free Trial.

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Zepol Publishes its Annual 2014 U.S. Port Report

Zepol has published its annual, popular, and not to mention free, trade report titled 'Zepol's 2014 U.S. Port Report.' Thousands of trade professionals download this report every year to gain a better perspective on their industry. Readers can monitor trade lanes and competitors, view the flow of imported goods, discover new business opportunities, and even make predictions for trade in 2015. 
Image Zepol's 2014 Port Report
Every page provides detailed import information for the top 20 U.S. ocean ports and compares statistics from 2013 to 2014. Additionally, this year the report contains a professional analysis of the data from the trade publication, and report sponsor, Port Technology International.

Click this link for a free download ‘Zepol’s 2014 U.S. Port Report’:

“Our port report is the most popular piece of content we publish annually,” states Zepol’s CEO Paul Rasmussen. “With so much going on at West Coast ports this year, its insights are not only intriguing but extremely valuable for trade professionals and analysts.”

The data includes an individual profile for each top 20 port including:
  • Import volume (TEUs) my month from 2013 to 2014
  • Key import companies at each port
  • Top 5 master carriers
  • Leading products imported
  • Total value of goods
  • Countries of origin

Data Note: The data in this report does not include empty containers, or shipments labeled as 'freight remaining on board,' and may contain other data anomalies.

What’s an HS or HTS Code?

An HS code or HTS code stands for Harmonized System or Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the codes are used to classify and define internationally traded goods. In most cases, in order to import or export a product internationally, the traded good must be assigned an HTS code that corresponds with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the country of import.

The difference between an HS code and HTS code is the number of digits within the code. A code with six digits is a universal standard (HS Code) and a code with 7-10 digits (HTS Code) is often unique after the 6th digit and determined by individual countries of import.

These codes are important because they not only determine the tariff/duty rate of the traded product, but they also keep a record of international trade statistics that are used in nearly 200 countries. For example, the United States Census uses these codes to determine the value, quantities, weights, countries traded with, and more, of every product that the United States imports and exports.

This link lists the entire Harmonized Tariff Schedule for the United States: www.zepol.com/products/free-trade-tools/hts-codes. You can drill into any schedule to see import and export values for any of the 42,847+ HS and HTS codes.

These codes go from 2-digit chapters and narrow down to a specific 10-digit code. Currently there are 99 chapters (132 including subchapters), 1,260 4-digit codes, 5,382 6-digit codes, 14,225 8-digit codes, and 21,848 10-digit codes.

Each section of the 10-digit HTS code represents a predefined nomenclature. See a definition of each HTS section in the graphic below. Try clicking into a 10-digit HTS code (Click Here). Notice how the HTS code becomes more defined and segmented as the number of digits increase.

HTS Code Category Definition Image

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