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  February 8th, 2024 | Written by

February U.S. Container Import Volumes Up 7.9% from December Driven by Chinese Imports

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Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, released its January Global Shipping Report for logistics and supply chain professionals. In January 2024, U.S. container import volume increased 7.9% from December 2023—the largest month-over-month growth for January in the last seven years. A 14.9% rise in imports from China fueled the gains with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach getting most of it. The combination of the Panama drought and Middle East conflict is beginning to impact transit times as delays at the top East and Gulf Coast ports increased considerably. The February update of the logistics metrics Descartes is tracking shows accelerated container import volume amid signs that global supply chain performance could be impacted throughout 2024 because of conditions at the Panama and Suez Canals and upcoming labor negotiations at U.S South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. 

January 2024 U.S. container import volumes increased 7.9% from December 2023 to 2,273,125 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) (see Figure 1). Versus January 2023, TEU volume was higher by 9.9%, and up 9.6% from pre-pandemic January 2019. 

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

 Source: Descartes Datamyne™

“January was another solid month driven by surprisingly strong imports from China,” said Chris Jones, EVP Industry and Services, Descartes. “The combined effect of the Panama drought and the conflict in the Middle East is beginning to impact transit times, particularly at the top East and Gulf coast ports.” 

The December report is Descartes’ thirtieth 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.