US imports from Central America in 2017 jumped 12 percent year over year to a record 1 million TEU, outpacing inbound container growth from any other region even as total US imports rose 6 percent in the same period to a new high of 22.9 million TEU. The rate of growth in 2017 was the fastest since 2011.
A 15 percent year-over-year spike in imports of the top commodity of fruits, nuts, and citrus to 552,862 TEU and a 69 percent jump in heating equipment and machinery to 49,191 TEU drove the growth, according to analysis of data from PIERS.
Costa Rica was the engine for Central America's export growth to the United States, with traffic up 30 percent year over year to 245,556 TEU as volume of fruits, nuts, and citrus rose 38 percent to 186,783 TEU, according to PIERS data. Mexico was another star in the region, with volume up 19.6 percent to 181,466 TEU as heating equipment and machinery surged 77 percent to 41,214 TEU. Growth from Nicaragua, where traffic rose 4.5 percent to 42,942 TEU, was led by a 12.8 percent increase in non-knit apparel to 14,688 TEU, and a 21.9 percent jump in coffee and tea to 4,642 TEU.
Growth from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama was broad, with many different commodity groupings recording growth. Honduras and Belize were the only countries in the region to record declines from 2016, with Honduras down 2.3 percent to 195,349 TEU, as imports from Belize fell 25.3 percent to 1,337 TEU.
Source: Journal of Commerce