Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Seattle Monthly Container Volumes
Down 5 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Seattle’s overall container volume was 140,832 TEUs in January 2014, a five percent drop compared to the 148,500 TEUs that were moved during same month last year, according to newly-released data.

Although full containerized imports were up about five percent during the month, exports were relatively flat, down one percent, according to the data, which were released Feb. 24.

The Port of Tacoma did, however, benefit from its diversified cargo mix in January, as container volumes got off to a slow start while other cargo categories posted gains. Auto imports improved 63 percent year-to-date in January.

The port attributed the auto imports surge to a year-end inventory push from Korean automakers that coincided with the end of the fiscal year. Volumes are expected to moderate in February.

Break bulk cargo, grain and log exports also grew last month. Break bulk was up 15 percent compared to January 2013, while grain and logs grew over 6 percent.

The port said the slight dip in exports was expected due to the timing of Lunar New Year, which fell in late January. Factories in China close their doors for one to two weeks for the holiday, so demand for such raw material exports as steel and paper traditionally drops during that time.

Last year the holiday, which is also known as Chinese New Year, was in mid-February.