All-important import benchmark sheds more than half its value in 2023


The US imports sub-index was the key driver behind the dramatic fall of the global XSI last month and continued its decline in June, falling by another 11%. The index is now at an 18-month low, illustrating the sharp rise and fall of the US import XSI, which took off in spectacular fashion in May 2022. 

With the exception of trades from Korea, long-term rates into the US West Coast fell by more than those heading towards the US East Coast. Long-term contract rates on all corridors, but one, fell by more if the destination was the US West Coast as opposed to the US East Coast. The one exception is the import trade lane origination in Korea, which went down by 15.9% from the level seen in May. With a corresponding decline of the trade lane from Korea to US West Coast sliding by 10.9%.

For the year-to-date, the XSI for US imports is down by 56.3%. It's hardly a surprise to see that the trade lane which has maintained the highest rate level in the first half of 2023 is the trans-Atlantic one. This corridor succeeded in defying gravity for an extended time, while the rest of the main hauls collapsed in a flood of falling demand into the US. The average of all valid contract rates on this trade is down by 'only' 35.7%. 

In May, the XSI for US exports was the odd one out, with rates climbing. That development has proved to be short-lived, with things 'back to normal' in June, thanks to a 4.3% drop. The index has mainly been driven down by the falls of 15.1% and 16.5% for US East Coast exports into North Europe and the Mediterranean. The index is now almost back to April's level. 

When comparing the first four months of 2023 to 2022, US container exports are up by 1.8%, almost on par with last year for each month. Most exports are shipped out of the US East Coast, which is also the trade driving the growth in 2023, up by 4.8%, with export out of US West Coast declining by 2.3%.

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