When U.S. ports in the Pacific Northwest talk about rival Prince Rupert, British Columbia, words such as “diversion” and “unfair advantages” dot the conversation. The depth of the PNW’s issues came more into focus this month, with 2011 containerized imports through the region’s U.S. ports showing a 6.8 percent decline in 2011 trade from Asia, to 1.3 million 20-foot equivalent container units.
And, in a further indication that the battle is firmly rooted in the discretionary cargoes moving to the U.S. Midwest, exports moving through the U.S. PNW ports to Asian ports rose 11 percent, and the region claimed a 21.3 percent share of the export trade among all West Coast ports, according to PIERS, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce.
Data (PDF): U.S. West Coast Containerized Exports to Asian Ports, by Asian Region by Month
Data (PDF): U.S. West Coast Containerized Imports from Asian Ports, by Asian Region by Month
Data (PDF): U.S. West Coast Trade with Asian Ports, by Ocean Carrier & by Asian Port
Data (PDF): U.S. West Coast Ports - Asian Ports Trade, by Asian Countries and West Coast Port
The result was that the U.S. PNW ports outperformed all West Coast ports on the export side and underperformed in the inbound trade.
Overall 2011 West Coast containerized trade through Asian ports increased 2.4 percent year-over-year to 13.3 million TEUs, and was up just 1 percent from pre-recession 2008 results.
West Coast exports to Asia in 2011, at 4.6 million TEUs, were up 6.8 percent year-over-year and 5.4 percent higher than 2008 — neither quite the surge the Obama administration is seeking in its National Export Initiative.
The Pacific Southwest ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, garnered a 64.4 percent export market share in 2011 with nearly 3 million TEUs running 6 percent ahead of 2010. Northern California ports held a 14.3 percent export market share after boosting volume 4.2 percent from 2010.
Imports moving from Asia to the West Coast, at nearly 8.7 million TEUs, were up just 0.3 percent year-over-year. They lagged 2008’s pre-recession volumes by 1.2 percent.
The Pacific Southwest ports’ 6.8 million TEUs of import cargo were good for a 77.9 percent market share in 2011, up 1.9 percent. But they lagged 2008 import volumes by 0.9 percent.
The Pacific Northwest ports, including Seattle, Tacoma and Portland, had a 15.3 percent share of the import market, while Northern California ports, primarily Oakland, had a 6.8 percent market share in 2011 as volume slipped 1.1 percent year-over-year to 590,000 TEUs. Imports through Northern California ports, however, were 0.7 percent ahead of pre-recession 2008.
APL was the largest carrier in the trade, but growth was inconsistent: Exports from the U.S. spiked 10.8 percent, while imports slid 7.9 percent.
Growth was uneven among the Top 10 carriers in the import trade. Only three carriers had year-over-year volume growth — Mediterranean Shipping, up 12.3 percent; Yang Ming, up 8.3 percent; and OOCL, 2 percent. In the outbound trade, MSC again led with 15.4 percent growth; Evergreen Line saw 13 percent growth, and Hanjin, growth of 11.9 percent. Three carriers on the export side experienced declining volumes: Hyundai, down 3.9 percent; “K” Line, 0.6 percent; and Maersk Line, 0.5 percent.
West Coast exports via Asian ports to mainland China increased 6.1 percent year-over year in 2011 to 1.6 million TEUs, good for 35.7 percent of the 4.9 million-TEU export trade. Imports were flat at 0.3 percent year-over-year growth, with China accounting for 65.9 percent of the 8.7 million-TEU trade.
Contact Marsha Salisbury at email@example.com.