Friday, April 25, 2014

Port of Tacoma Container Volumes Rebound

By Mark Edward Nero

After a down month in February, container volumes through the Port of Tacoma bounced back in March, posting a gain of more than eight percent compared with the same month last year, according to newly-released port data.

Port terminals saw a total of 185,415 TEUs during the month, an 8.5 percent increase over March 2013, according to the data. The bulk of the total volume came from imports and exports of full containers from overseas, of which the port saw 120,564.

The increase in volumes was expected after production ramped up in China following factory closures during the Lunar New Year holiday in early February, and empty containers were sent back to Asia ahead of the peak shipping season that traditionally begins in the summer.

Additionally, a strike by container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver from March 10 to 26 also diverted some cargo to Tacoma, according to port officials.

In February, container volumes were down five percent compared with the same month last year, dragged down by a 28 percent drop in overseas containers caused in part by the Lunar New Year.

Despite the gains last month, however, Tacoma container volumes were flat for the first quarter of the year: they were down 0.3 percent year to date to 467,789 TEUs. However, full containerized exports improved four percent to 140,290 TEUs during the three-month period, and imports grew nearly three percent to 177,047 TEUs.

Additionally, break bulk cargo volumes and auto imports continued to perform well year to date, up 25 percent and 14 percent respectively, last month.