August 2023 International Market Update


The following information from Sunset’s International team details the current International market conditions. Customer communication is vital with the instability of international trade. 

Sunset is here to help with the most basic or complex shipments.  Email [email protected] to speak further about how to manage any International needs that arise.

Ocean Industry

  • Panama Canal
    • As of July 30, the daily transit capacity of the Panama Canal was adjusted to 32 ocean vessels per day, down from the previous restriction of 38 vessels per day. The Panama Canal Authority said it was implementing the measures to avoid additional draught restrictions due to extended dry conditions in the Panama Canal watershed, despite water saving measures and the arrival of the rainy season.
    • Overall US East Coast ports: 2-4 days.
    • Savannah: Waiting time for vessel berth at the terminal is up to 4 days, depending on vessel size. This is due to congestion resulting from vessel bunching and berth construction projects that are anticipated to be completed in December.
    • New York: No waiting time expected for berth at Global Container Terminals Bayonne, APM Terminals and Maher Terminals LLC.
    • Port of Los Angeles: Dwell times for local import cargo is 3.9 days. On-dock rail dwell is 3.6 days, and import units on the street are averaging at 4.8 / 6.6 days for 20ft and 40ft containers, respectively.
    • Oakland: Average wait time of up to 6 days at Oakland Int’l Container Terminal (OICT) and 7 days at TraPac. Average import deliveries can take up to 4.5 days at TraPac and at OICT.
    • Tacoma: Wait time of up to 7 days at Tacoma.
    • Vancouver: All marine terminals in Vancouver are operational. Berth congestion continues as the terminals recover from previous strike action. 
    • Space remains readily available on U.S. East and West coasts.
    • Panama Canal draft restrictions have had little to no impact on exports from U.S. east and gulf ports as vessel utilizations remain light, allowing ships to sit higher in the water.
    • Dry equipment remains mostly available at both port and IPI locations; however, chassis availability continues to be limited at some inland points.
    • Space continues to be available on U.S. East and Gulf services.
    • U.S. West coast services continue to see solid utilization; however, space pressure has scaled back from late last year.
    • Chassis availability is still an issue at some inland locations; however, dry equipment should be readily available throughout.
  • US International Trade in Goods and Services, May 2023
    • June 2023: -$65.5B
    • May 2023: -$68.3B

The U.S. monthly international trade deficit decreased in June 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit decreased from $68.3B in May (revised) to $65.5B in June as imports decreased more than exports. The goods deficit decreased $2.8B in June to $88.2B. The services surplus decreased less than $0.1B in June to $22.7B.


Instability will continue into Q1 2024 due to the international trade still making attempts to stabilize post-pandemic.  We have seen an increase in rates for 3 straight weeks due to blank sailings, and import volumes are holding steady.

  • July 2023 U.S. container import volumes increased 5.1% from June 2023 to 2,187,810 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) (see Figure 1). Versus July 2022, TEU volume was lower by 13.6%, and down 0.5% from pre-pandemic July 2019. The growth in import volume over the first seven months of 2023 is within 1.7% of the same period in 2019.
  • Global Schedule Reliability decreased 2.5% from May to June at 64.3%.

Future Lookouts

  • Weekly analysis : 11 August 2023
    • Across the major East-West headhaul trades: Transpacific, Transatlantic and Asia-North Europe & Med — 32 cancelled sailings have been announced between weeks 33 (14 Aug-20 Aug) and week 37 (11 Sep-17 Sep), out of a total 665 scheduled sailings, representing 5% cancellation rate.

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