Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Puget Sound Container Volumes Surge

By Mark Edward Nero

Robust import volumes pushed March container volumes at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle up 21 percent over the same month a year ago, according to newly-released data.

The ports handled a combined 361,951 TEUs last month, making March the busiest month since September 2014, according to data released on April 17.

March 2015 was the first full month since the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union announced a tentative five-year contract. In the months before the agreement, productivity had slid significantly, with each side blaming the other for the congestion.

The labor agreement was reached at the end of February.

The ports say they expect volumes to remain higher than normal in the coming months as vessels return to normal service schedules and manufacturers in Asia work to clear excess inventory.

Through the first three months of the year, container volumes grew a combined three percent at the ports to 822,969 TEUs, compared to 802,517 containers during the same period last year.

The ports saw a total of 10 million metric tons of cargo last month, a 9.1 percent jump over March 2014, according to data.

In other cargo news, log exports fell 41 percent year to date, something the ports attribute to a slowing Chinese economy; and breakbulk cargo grew 10 percent, which the ports says is due to the strength of farm equipment exports.