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Reports show optimism about international trade growth in 2012

April 17, 2012|By Ronald D. White

The International Monetary Fund released a report that said there could be a downturn in global trade this year, but a number of other surveys and analyses have come to more positive conclusions.

A recent survey of more than 50 global retail manufacturers and importers, conducted by Capital Business Credit, a lender that services the retail sector, found that 43.2% believe the 2012 spring retail season will be stronger than 2011, and 40% said they thought the spring season would be at least as robust as last year. There was just slightly less optimism about summer sales, with 40% expecting improvement over last year and 40% saying they believed they would match their 2011 performance.

“These numbers are very encouraging for the overall state of the consumer-driven economy," said Andrew Tananbaum, executive chairman of CBC. "This is the first time in nearly three years that the importers we work with are manufacturing more than they did last year and are planning on having to restock shelves."

Zepol Corp., which bills itself as a leading trade intelligence company, reported that U.S. trade gateways like the nation's major seaports received 6.2% more cargo imports in March than they did during the same month in 2011.

Zepol said that strong growth in U.S. imports of iron, steel, plastics and aluminum were signs of growing strength in the U.S. manufacturing and construction sectors.

A report on the State of Global Trade in 2012 survey of 271 trade professionals, conducted by Panjiva and the Global Sourcing Council, said: "We found that many of our survey respondents are feeling bullish about 2012.... 50% are 'somewhat optimistic' or 'very optimistic' about the global economy in 2012, versus just 21% who are 'somewhat pessimistic' or 'very pessimistic.' There is also an intent to keep total spending at 2011 levels or higher."

The report added, "All of this is great news for 2012 -- coming at a time when we see the recovery of the US economy picking up steam."

Beacon Economics, an economic research and consulting firm, said it "remains relatively bullish on the national economy and believes it could grow at 3% or more, on average, in 2012."

A Port Tracker monthly analysis of import cargo movements through the nation's busiest seaports, conducted by the business consulting firm Hackett Associates for the National Retail Federation, said cargo traffic in May should match the 2011 total, followed by 3.6% growth in June, compared with the same months a year earlier. In August, the nation's seaports should see import cargo growth of 7.4% compared with the same month in 2011.

“Retailers are continuing to watch rising gas prices, but job gains and other indicators show the economy is strengthening,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation. “All of this should improve consumer confidence and lead to increased spending, so retailers are cautiously building up their inventories.”


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