Business information consultancy Info Trend Co is marketing data that it claims will revolutionise how traders approach the United States market. Johnny Chan Sai-heung, president (sales and marketing) of Info Trend Co, said the data, collected from ship manifest records filed by shipping lines with the US Customs, was useful for businesses wanting to develop trade with the US. 'With this data, a businessman can know about the US market without having to actually go there himself,' he said. The data can give top importers or exporters by rank, their profiles, sales leads, competitor analysis and the type of products they are exporting or importing. Info Trend is marketing the coded and formatted information which is supplied by the Port Import-Export Reporting Service (Piers) of the Journal of Commerce. Mr Chan said the data included 'anything moved by water route to the United States'. Last year, Piers handled 9.8 million ship manifest records of all vessels entering the US. The data, updated weekly, is available on paper, CD-Rom and from an on-line system - Piers 2000 - which can be accessed via the Internet. Information provided will have a time lag of four to six weeks - the period needed for collecting and processing the data before distribution. Terence Wong Ting-shu, president of Info Trend, said companies could use the data to find new business and protect existing business. The data could be obtained in graphic form to show, for example: How many exporters there were of a product. Who were the importers. How many container loads were shipped to the US from a destination, and to which ports. 'Every company that is identified has its own identity code and one can look at the database for phone numbers, the banker they use, freight forwarder, importer and exporter,' he said. Info Trend has attracted about 100 customers comprising shipping lines, importers, exporters and freight forwarders since its launch in July. Mr Chan said even the CIA used the data to monitor activities which might be unlawful, but he declined to elaborate. Piers provides more than 100 templates which can be used to give combined reports on imports and exports, type of product and so on. For example, Piers' data shows that Hong Kong was the top port for direct and transshipment of containerised cargo from the mainland to the US between January and November last year, handling 63.71 per cent of throughput, representing 898,802 teu (20 ft equivalent units). Over the same period, Shanghai port was second, handling 135,438 teu, or 9.6 per cent of the market, while Yantian was third, handling 82,503 teu, a 5.85 per cent share. Between January and November, Hyundai Merchant Marine was the top container carrier for containerised cargo from Hong Kong to the US, handling 178,222 teu, followed by Evergreen with 176,502 teu and Hanjin with 123,932 teu. Hyundai had an 11.53 per cent market share, Evergreen 11.42 per cent and Hanjin 8.02 per cent.