Panjiva reports November shipment growth but at a reduced rate

November’s shipments represented a 1.8% annual gain, up 6.1% year to date. Panjiva said this tally also includes containerized shipments, which saw a 3.7% annual increase.

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Coming off of an all-time high for United States-bound waterborne shipments in October, November still showed growth, albeit not at the same level, according to data recently issued by global trade intelligence firm Panjiva.

November’s 1,005,001 shipments represented a 1.8% annual gain, with 2018 shipments through November, at 11,288,944, are up 6.1% annually. Panjiva said this tally also includes containerized shipments, which saw a 3.7% annual increase.

Even though growth remained intact, Panjiva reported this level was well shy of the 7.2% average for the previous three months, adding that the seasonal shift was also above past years, with November down 8.9% compared to October and also compared to the cumulative 3.1% average decline over the previous five years.

Panjiva Research Director Chris Rogers wrote that the slowdown in November’s growth was not directly due to duties, or tariffs, on imports coming out of China, with imports from China, including Hong Kong, up 4.2% annually in November, while lagging the previous three-month average of 8.1%. 

Rogers added that the primary culprit for the November decline was related to shipments out of the Europe, which fell 6.8% compared to a 3.0% decline over the previous three months. This may have been due to some suppliers moving over to non-Chinese Asian markets on the heels of imports out of Japan up 7.2% off of a previous decline, as other Asian markets had slow growth, he noted.

In an interview, Rogers said that these numbers indicate there are signs of the early stages of a global economic slowdown as it relates to trade.

“That was made pretty clear with the numbers out of Europe,” he said. “The China slowdown is notable, because the shipping decisions that led to the November number took place before President Trump met with President Xi, when people still assumed tariffs were going to be implemented in January [which has since been pushed back to March 1 at the earliest].”

Rogers also pointed to reports coming out in recent days citing higher inventory levels and warehouses more full of goods, due to lower growth levels. This, he added, could lead to a more pronounced slowdown in December’s numbers.

And there could be additional complications in early 2019, with the Lunar New Year coming two weeks earlier on February 5, with imports usually up earlier in the year in January and February as a result of that, coupled with the 90-day U.S.-China negotiating period ending March 1 may not leave time for importers to change their shipping behavior.

“Either tariffs arrive in early March or at the end of the first quarter or they don’t arrive and companies are left holding a lot of inventory so there may be a slowdown one way or another,” he said. “Whether it happens in March or February is somewhat irrelevant when looking at the first quarter as a whole.”

Panjiva said total 2019 U.S.-bound waterborne shipments could see a 5.7% annual increase, depending on December, which is in line with November’s 5.9% estimate.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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