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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Northwest Seaport Alliance: First Quarter International Volumes Strong

By Mark Edward Nero

Total domestic and international container volumes at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma combined jumped by more than 14 percent for the month of March, and year-to-date volumes were up 10 percent, according to newly released data from the two ports’ marine cargo operating partnership.

March international container volumes performed strongly post-Lunar New Year, according to the Northwest Seaport Alliance. Full imports grew almost 26 percent (120,018 TEUs) compared to March 2016. At 99,603 TEUs, full exports were up more than nine percent in March, making it the strongest month for exports this year.

According to the Alliance data, total international TEU volumes, including empties, increased by almost 21 percent compared to March 2016.International volumes recorded their highest first quarter since 2005, which was then a record-breaking year. This year’s first-quarter full imports reached 351,607 TEUs, up more than 13 percent. Meanwhile, full exports grew six percent at 247,186 TEUs. Total international containers, including empties, increased more than 13 percent year-to-date.

The news wasn’t all good however, as total domestic volumes for the month were down more than eight percent compared to March 2016. Year to date, Alaska volumes declined almost four percent and are expected to decline five to six percent this year due to soft market conditions.

Hawaii volumes, however, are expected to show modest growth for the year and have grown two percent year to date.

Numbers also state that breakbulk cargo was down 16 percent to 38,114 metric tons year to date, due to soft market conditions.

March 2017 was the ports’ fifth-largest month for autos in the past 21 years. Autos reached 44,317 units year to date and were flat compared to the first quarter of last year.

Additionally, data show log volumes, driven by stronger demand from China, were up 76.1 percent to 62,753 metric tons compared to March 2016. The ports’ March 2017 container volumes can be seen at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/seaport_alliance_full_mty_by_month_2016vs17_0.pdf, while cargo statistics are available at https://www.nwseaportalliance.com/sites/default/files/seaport_alliance-5-year_history_mar_17.pdf