Friday, February 20, 2015

Puget Sound Container Volumes Take a Dip

By Mark Edward Nero

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma saw their combined container volumes take a double-digit dip of 13 percent in January compared to the same month in 2014, according to data released by the ports Feb. 18.

Seattle and Tacoma, which began reporting joint cargo volumes in December, handled a combined 226,906 TEUs last month, according to data. Containerized imports plunged 21 percent to 89,982 TEUs, while exports dipped seven percent to 81,213 TEUs. Domestic volumes to Alaska and Hawaii fell seven percent to 55,711 TEUs.

The released data does not include information on how each port performed individually during the month.

The ports say that issues related to ongoing contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union began affecting cargo movement at Seattle and Tacoma in late October, as was the case at other West Coast ports, particularly those in Southern California. The PMA and ILWU have been in contract negotiations since May 2014.

Seattle and Tacoma announced in October 2014 plans to form a Seaport Alliance to unify management of marine cargo terminals and related functions. The strategy, currently in the due diligence phase, is in response to competitive threats and something the ports have said should strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and create more economic opportunities for the region.