Container volume moving through West Coast ports increased 7 percent in April compared to April 2010, with export growth outpacing import growth.
According to the Pacific Maritime Association, containerized exports moving through gateways in Washington, Oregon and California increased 8 percent in April compared to April 2010, while imports increased only 5 percent.
By the Numbers: Containerized Ocean Trade – Southern California Ports.
A similar pattern emerged during the first four months of 2011. Total loaded containers January through April increased 9 percent over the same period last year. Exports were up 10 percent and imports increased 8 percent.
The total container volume in Los Angeles-Long Beach increased 9 percent during the first four months of 2011. Exports and imports both increased 9 percent.
Imports moving through Los Angeles-Long Beach remain strong after a half-dozen niche carriers began or expanded operations this past year between China and Southern California. Those smaller carriers tend to have higher vessel utilization rates eastbound than westbound.
Oakland, which is usually stronger on exports, recorded a 9 percent gain in exports January through April, while imports increased 5 percent.
Exports moving through the Seattle-Tacoma gateway increased 12 percent January through April while imports were up 5 percent.
Portland, while starting from a smaller cargo base, had especially strong growth numbers so far this year, with exports up 26 percent and imports increasing 17 percent.
Industry analysts at The Journal of Commerce Trans-Pacific Maritime conference in March in Long Beach projected container volume in the eastbound Pacific would increase between 6 and 9 percent this year, and the 8 percent growth in imports during the first four months of the year fell in the higher range of those projections.
The analysts also predicted U.S. export growth would exceed the increase in imports, and to date that has also been the case.