By Mark Edward Nero
Total cargo at Canada’s largest port for the half-year ending June 30 was 66.0 million metric tons, an overall decrease of 5.9 percent over the same period in 2015, according to data released Aug. 19 by the Port of Vancouver.
According to the port authority’s 2016 mid-year statistics report, a softened global economy, the weakened Canadian dollar, and some containerized cargo shifting back to United States ports following an extended labor disruption on the US West Coast last year were all factors contributing to lighter than usual traffic through the port.
Despite the short-term slowdown, forecasts show that long-term growth in trade is expected to continue to boost the Canadian economy.
“The slight decrease in cargo volumes in the first half of 2016 is expected, given the record year we experienced in 2015 and the softening global economy,” Vancouver Fraser Port Authority President and CEO Robin Silvester explained. “The long-term outlook for Canadian trade is one of growth, and the port will be ready to handle increased volumes through Canada’s West Coast.”
The half-year results represent a softening of volumes in all major commodities except grain, where increases in barley (up 41.8 percent) and canola (up 40.1 percent) contributed to overall growth in that sector.
In the container sector, volumes weakened in the first half of 2016 compared to last year, when the port had experienced a temporary surge of cargo in 2015 as shippers moved freight through Canada due to traffic congestion caused by labor disruptions at US West Coast ports.
Between January and June 2016, 1.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units moved through Vancouver, a decrease of 6.5 percent from the same period in 2015, a record-breaking year. Compared to 2014, 2016 volume is up 1.3 percent.