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Post-Covid-Indicator 9-22-21

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Trade Price Forecast Import and export prices continue on level path

Flexport’s Trade Price Forecast (TPF) forecast covers import and export prices. Our current Trade Price Forecast is for both U.S. import and export prices to stabilize at current levels over the coming six-month period ending in September; overall import prices will be down 0.8% by September, export prices down by 0.4%. On the import side, prices for industrial supplies will see the biggest move, dropping by 3.1%. Automotive export prices will be up 1.7%.

The Methodology: In the course of calculating real and nominal forecasts for trade and consumption, it is necessary to predict price trends at a disaggregate level from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Update: May 18, 2023

During the pandemic, import scarcity was blamed for fueling inflation. Export prices rose at a steeper rate, but import prices trailed not far behind. They then peaked around June 2022 and fell through the second half of the year.

We have been looking at the changing supply of U.S. imports in other Flexport data releases, as well as U.S. exports. With the Trade Price Forecast, we look at overall prices for both imports and exports and at the level of key sectors. Besides being one input for inflation calculations, price movements are of interest to anyone engaged in trade in general or in these specific sectors.

Fig. 1 - Import and Export Prices Forecast to Flatten Out

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Figure 1 shows real prices for both imports and exports, dating back to March 2022.

After a year of significant declines, import prices are forecast to fall by a mere 0.8% over the six months covered by the current forecast period. Export prices will see slightly less movement, down 0.4% by September when compared to March.

Fig. 2 - Industrial Import Prices Continue to Fall

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Figure 2 tells a more nuanced story. Import prices for industrial supplies are forecast to continue falling, ending the forecast period down 3.1% from March and 27.6% from their recent peak in June 2022. Petroleum products feature prominently among industrial supplies. The only other significant change we forecast at present is in automotive import prices, which will be up 1%.

Import prices across the other main categories are forecast to see little to no movement, with prices of consumer goods essentially unchanged over the next six months.

Fig. 3 - Export price of Industrial Supplies to continue falling

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Figure 3 conducts the same exercise for export prices, calculating the percentage change from the base year average (April 21 - March 22).

As with import prices, the most volatile category in the export prices of goods since the beginning of the pandemic has been industrial supplies. As of December 2022, they were down 35% from their peak in June. We project prices in this category to fall further but at a far slower rate, ending the period down 1.9%, with a 1.8% drop in July.

Export prices in other categories are on mild upward paths: capital goods will be up 1.7%, as will automotives. Consumer goods will rise by 1.5%. The food category will decline 0.8%.

The next update for the Flexport TPF will be on June 21, 2023. Please direct questions about the Flexport Trade Price Index to economics@flexport.com.

Disclaimer: The contents of this report are made available for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any legal, business, or financial decisions. Flexport does not guarantee, represent, or warrant any of the contents of this report because they are based on our current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions, about which there can be no assurance due to various anticipated and unanticipated events that may occur. This report has been prepared to the best of our knowledge and research; however, the information presented herein may not reflect the most current regulatory or industry developments. Neither Flexport nor its advisors or affiliates shall be liable for any losses that arise in any way due to the reliance on the contents contained in this report.

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