AAPA Seaports Advisory

Sea Trade Trends: United States

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U.S. Waterborne Foreign Trade Slipped in 2015

America’s waterborne foreign trade declined in 2015, down 1.7 percent to 1.27 billion metric tons from 1.29 billion tons in 2014, according to data collected and reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Exports fell 3.2 percent to 595.6 million tons from 2014’s record 614 million tons, as the strong U.S. dollar and weakening overseas economies undercut demand for U.S.-sourced goods. Imports dropped 0.4 percent to an 18-year low of some 671 million tons, much of it the result of America’s declining appetite for foreign petroleum.

The value of trade also dropped, by 10.8 percent to $1.56 trillion, with exports down by 15.0 percent and imports by 8.6 percent from their 2014 levels.

Asia remained America’s leading trading region, with cargo volume from January through December of 384 million tons ( 3.7 percent) valued at nearly $781 billion (-1.8 percent). The strongest growth came from India and China, with cargo tonnage increases of 7.8 and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Within the Western Hemisphere, tonnage gains from 2014 occurred in U.S. trade with Canada, Mexico, and South and Central America, while declines prevailed in the Caribbean.

Elsewhere, the data show tonnage gains for U.S. seatrade with Australia and steep declines in North and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Click here for comparisons of the volume and value of U.S. Seaborne Trade by World Region 2014-2015.

Twenty-five countries generated roughly 78 percent of the volume and 79 percent value of U.S. international waterborne trade in 2015. Five alone — China, Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil — accounted for 37 percent of total tonnage; 45 percent of the dollar total came from trade with China, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Mexico. Click here for U.S. Seatrade 2015 Rankings by Trading Partner.

Houston-Galveston was the top U.S. Customs district in 2015 based on import and total foreign seaborne cargo tonnage, while the New Orleans district led in export tonnage. Ranked by dollar value, the Los Angeles district stood first in imports and total trade. Houston/Galveston topped the export list. View U.S. Waterborne Foreign Trade 2015 by Customs Districts, Ranked by Volume and Value

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