By Mark Edward Nero
The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is made up of the port of Seattle and Tacoma, says that strong export volumes through last month hint at a better 2016 outlook than predicted, with full containerized exports up 15 percent year to date in April.
Both full containerized exports and imports posted seven percent gains last month compared to April 2015. The April numbers mark the first month-over-month comparison that doesn’t reflect cargo volumes impacted by last year’s contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
However, for the year to date, the Puget Sound gateway’s container volumes are flat at 1.08 million TEUs, a 0.1 percent drop from the same four months in 2015. Full exports are up 15 percent year to date to 310,099 TEUs, and full imports are flat at 415,407 TEUs.
Empty container volumes are down 16 percent year to date, and domestic volumes continue to lag due a weaker Alaskan economy.
Auto imports continue to be a bright spot for non-container cargo, up nearly nine percent year to date in April to 62,113 units. Breakbulk cargo’s down 36 percent year to date to 61,097 metric tons, with the Alliance saying the dip reflects slowing economic growth in China and the impact of lower oil prices.
Monthly container volumes for the Seaport Alliance are available at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/April2016_ContainerVolumes.pdf and a five-year cargo volume history can be found at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/April2016_CargoStatistics.pdf.