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Largest increase in US January imports in 7 years despite canal delays

Despite facing challenges and delays in both the Suez and Panama Canals, the US witnessed a significant uptick in imports in January, marking the most substantial December-to-January surge in seven years, reports logistics software provider Descartes.

Data compiled by Descartes from U.S. Customs filings reveals that the U.S. imported 2.27 million twenty-foot containers in January, reflecting a notable 7.9% surge from December and a robust 9.9% increase compared to the same period last year.

Photo © Andreykuzmin |

A substantial rise in imports from China played a pivotal role in this growth, soaring by 14.9% over December. Furniture and bedding emerged as the leading product categories among these imports.

Despite the surge in imports, January saw an overall increase in port transit delays, particularly noticeable at East Coast ports.

Looking ahead, Descartes highlighted several risk factors for the year, notably the impending expiration of the labour agreement between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance, scheduled for the end of September. Additional factors cited include the health of the U.S. economy, escalating port transit wait times, and the potential impact of new COVID subvariants, particularly in China.


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