Friday, April 22, 2016

Quarterly Volumes Grow at Puget Sound Ports

By Mark Edward Nero

Auto imports and container volumes at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, collectively known as the Northwest Seaport Alliance, posted gains through the first quarter of 2016, according to data released April 18.

“Building off last year’s record-breaking volumes, March marked the highest volume of auto imports in more than a decade,” the ports said in a statement. “The 21,085 units beat the previous record from December 2002.”

Meanwhile, international containers improved four percent through the first three months of the year, largely on the strength of January and February volumes. Full containerized exports were up 18 percent year to date to 233,102 twenty-foot equivalent units, while imports were flat at 311,011 TEUs. Empty container volumes are down four percent year to date, according to the data.

But while the quarterly numbers were relatively good, the same can’t be said for last month’s volume by itself. When compared to March 2015, March 2016’s international container volumes were down nearly 22 percent.

However, March 2015 volumes were particularly robust as the alliance’s harbors quickly cleared the backlog built up during labor contract negotiations after an agreement was reached in February 2015.

The Alliance also said that March container volumes were affected by Lunar New Year, when factories in Asia close for one to two weeks. Full container numbers for the month can be seen at and full cargo statistics are available at