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Vivek Vaid - CTOVivek VaidChief Technology Officer, FourKites

After analyzing FourKites platform data for 230 ports around the world, we continue to see the steady upward trend following February’s precipitous decline now stabilizing into more historic patterns. In this post, we examine trends in international imports and exports, as well as port-level data, to get a pulse on the current status of global trade.

Export/Outbound Volume

We can now see that for the month of April (we are looking at shipments that have concluded their six-week journey), outbound shipments from China declined marginally by 4% compared to March, whereas the global decline in outbound shipments hovers around 2%. These are very small changes, and we view this as normal month-to-month fluctuation.

China Weekly ExportsOverall Weekly Export

However, when compared to Q1, which saw larger declines due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the rebound is more stark. China’s outbound shipments in April increased 16% compared to Q1 average volumes, whereas overall outbound shipments across all countries in the FourKites platform increased 20% in April.

Import/Inbound Volume

Similar to outbound volume, inbound ocean freight volume in April was fairly consistent with late March, both globally and into China. Compared to March, inbound shipments from China increased marginally by 3% in April, whereas the global increase was 17%.

Compared to Q1 overall, we see a 25% rebound in China’s inbound shipments in April, while global inbound volume on the FourKites platform has increased by 18%.

China Weekly ImportsOverall Weekly Imports

Port-level Analysis

In addition to looking at the trend data in international trade volume, we also dug into port-level data for the month of April. Here are the most salient observations:

In North America

Ports in SC, GA and TX saw the highest volume of inbound ocean shipments.

Ports in CA and IL saw the highest volume of outbound ocean shipments.

With regard to import dwell times in the US, Port of Savannah has suffered the most, seeing an average of three days and six hours in April, as compared to the US average of about two days. Below is a snapshot of the status at the Port of Savannah as of this writing.

With regard to export dwell time in the US, Port of Los Angeles has seen the highest levels, accounting for an average of seven days and 20 hours, as compared to the US average of six days. Here’s a current snapshot of the two ports in LA as of this writing.

In China

Ports in Guangdong Sheng and Shanghai Shi are handling the highest volume of Chinese exports, while ports in Jiangsu Sheng, Shandong Sheng, Zhejiang Sheng saw the highest volumes of Chinese imports.

Port of Shanghai has seen the worst import dwell time in the country, accounting for an average of four days, while Port of Nansha has seen the highest levels of export dwell, accounting for an average of six days and sixteen hours.

While dwell time remains high at select ports for the time being, we analyzed average dwell data across 25 major ports over the last two months to get a sense of where we’re headed when it comes to international trade. As is evident in the chart below, we can distinctly see that dwell times are headed down, with current dwell times at roughly half their levels from mid-February.

Stay tuned for additional updates as we continue to monitor our global network for the latest ocean freight trends.

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