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Demand for Chinese furniture is driving up U.S. import container volume, PIERS says


A tax credit for first-time home buyers has helped propel U.S. import container traffic the past few months, according to PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, a U.S. waterborne trade information provider.

Containerized imports from China jumped 20 percent in May and rose 8.1 percent in April primarily because new homeowners’ furniture purchases prompted an 18 percent surge in furniture imports, PIERS officials said in a prepared statement. Through 2010’s first five months, import container volume increased 12.2 percent year over year.

Under the tax credit program, qualified homebuyers had to sign a purchase contract by April 30 and close a deal by June 30. The program caused home sales to rise 14.8 percent in April to an annual rate of 504,000, but sales then plunged 33 percent in May, according to PIERS.

Imports of Chinese furniture in May increased to 114,000 20-foot equivalent units, up 17,378 units from May 2009’s total.

“June statistics are likely to reveal this trend of increased inbound shipments for furniture,” PIERS officials said. “Cargo backlogs and rising freight rates are heating up, primarily because of tight capacity, indicative of a peak season arriving two months early.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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