International container volumes through the Puget Sound rebounded strongly in 2015 with The Northwest Seaport Alliance handling more than 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an increase of 4 percent. Container volumes grew despite the slowing Chinese economy and volume declines earlier in the year during West Coast labor negotiations.
As linear projections go, most economists believe the probability that China's economy will be the world's largest in the next two decades is all but certain. One of the primary if often overlooked impediments that will govern how quickly China's economy reaches this point is the country's demographics.
Rise in Infrastructure Construction
On March 10, during a stopover in Portland, OR, My Tran, Senior Commercial Specialist from the U.S. Consulate, Ho Chi Minh City provided an executive briefing on market trends, opportunities and tips for overcoming challenges in the Vietnam ACE/Building products sector during a roundtable discussion that was hosted by the U.S. Commercial Service-Portland and the Evergreen Building Products Association.
The US is Australia's fifth leading wood products supplier (following New Zealand, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, respectively), with Australia importing $99 million in wood products from the US in 2013. Leading product categories include softwood plywood, fabricated structural members, and windows. All of these product categories has continually increased, due to strong demand in Australia's housing market. While a small market, imports of prefabricated housing reached $506,000 in 2013
On April 4th, the newly minted Bank of Japan Kuroda (BOJ) announced sweeping new changes to expand the scale and scope of monetary easing measures. The quantitative easing measures are projected to nearly double Japan's monetary base to 270 trillion yen by the end of 2014 in view of achieving a 2% annual inflation target. The BOJ measures resulted in a further weakening in the Japanese yen towards near par to the US dollar and a rally in the Nikkei stock exchange.
The State of the Economy
Quarter-over-quarter GDP growth on a seasonally adjusted basis was 2.2%, an improvement from Q2. Weaker growth in industrial production was partially offset by stronger agriculture and services sector growth. Slowing down at a more moderate pace suggests that the economy may be bottoming out.