JOC Rankings: US–China trade war accelerates market share losses for West Coast ports

JOC Rankings: US–China trade war accelerates market share losses for West Coast ports

The combined import-export market share of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (pictured) has fallen from 26.5 percent in 2015 to 22.9 percent in 2019. Photo credit: trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com.

Correction: A previous version of the Top 25 North American Ports ranking tables below had the TEU volume for 2019 mistakenly labelled as 2018. JOC apologizes for the error.

The long-term diversion of cargo volumes away from ports on the West Coast of North America accelerated in 2019, as the United States-China trade war forced importers and exporters to consider alternative markets. That’s reflected in JOC.com’s Top 25 North American Ports rankings, as the likes of Houston and Savannah increased their market share on the back of strong growth, while Los Angeles, Long Beach, and ports in the Pacific Northwest saw their market share erode.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach shed an aggregate 1.5 percent market share of North American containerized throughput in 2019, according to data from PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS Markit. The combined two-way market share of the Southern California gateways stood at 22.9 percent for the year, down from 24.4 percent in 2018 and 26.5 percent in 2015. That’s a 13.6 percent erosion in share for the continent’s biggest container gateway in the last four years alone.

With Chinese-made goods subject to new and increased Trump administration tariffs of as much as 25 percent, US importers increased sourcing in locations such as Southeast Asia, where ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coast could more effectively compete for those volumes. At the same time, US exporters, faced with increased reciprocal duties in China, sought to increase sales in other countries.

According to PIERS, US container import volume from Vietnam surged 34.2 percent year over year in 2019, while imports from Thailand jumped 18.5 percent and shipments from India were up 9.5 percent. All three markets are in play for US East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. By contrast, imports from China dropped 9.8 percent during the same period.

As a result, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, North America’s first and third largest individually, shed 581,000 TEU in import volume in 2019. West Coast ports lost nearly 2 percentage points of throughput share to other North American gateways during the year, with Prince Rupert and Oakland the only gateways on the West Coast that managed to grow their respective market shares.

The biggest beneficiaries of that volume migration were Savannah and Houston; Savannah on the strength of a 6.7 percent increase in import volumes and Houston benefitting from an 18.9 percent surge in exports. That equated to a 0.4 percentage point increase in import share for Savannah and a 1.1-point increase in export market share for Houston.

The volume drain from West Coast ports even extended to Manzanillo and Lázaro Cárdenas in Mexico and Vancouver in Canada. Those three ports, along with the Northwest Seaports Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma, collectively lost 0.5 percent in market share for the West Coast. Prince Rupert offset some of that lost volume, growing its market share by 0.4 percentage points, from 1.8 percent to 2.2 percent. That growth was equal to about 20 percent of the volume lost across West Coast ports to East and Gulf coast competitors.

With imports from China likely to decline further in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the competitive landscape for North American ports will be even more strained in 2020.

On the export side, Savannah reinforced its position as the third-busiest North American port, growing share from 7.9 percent to 8.1 percent in 2019, while Long Beach’s share fell from 7.4 percent to 7.3 percent. Houston appeared ready to overtake Long Beach, with 2019 outbound volume surging 18.9 percent, to 1.2 million TEU, on the back of strong growth in resin product manufacturing, but that ascent could be hampered by IHS Markit’s projection that US resin exports will fall about 9 percent in 2020 due to the recent collapse in oil prices triggered by a coronavirus-related drop in demand.

The share of total import volume of the top 25 North American ports fell from 94.1 percent in 2018 to 93 percent in 2019, while the outbound market share of the busiest export gateways held steady at 95.6 percent.

Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.

JOC Top 25 North American Ports

Imports. Ranked by 2019 laden TEU
Leading the North America inbound container trade in 2019 were the Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with a combined volume of 8.3 million TEU, falling 6.5 percent year over year and representing 26.6 percent of the overall North America inbound container trade.

The JOC Top 25 container inbound ports in North America in 2019 represented 93.7 percent or 29.3 million TEU of the 31.4 million TEU in the total North America inbound laden container trade. The total volume of these top 25 inbound ports in 2019 increased 0.5 percent year over year, ahead of the 0.6 percent decline growth of all inbound ports in North America. Among these top 25 inbound ports in 2019, 17 were US ports; four, Canada ports; and four, Mexico ports. By market share, among these top 25 inbound ports, US ports led with 72.9 percent of the total North America trade, Canada held an 11.2 percent share, and Mexico held a 9 percent share.
2019 2019TEU VolumeMarket Share
RankNorth American PortMarket Share2016201720182019201620172018
 
1Los Angeles14.8%4,494,0054,616,4514,852,0834,654,98717.7%16.9%15.5%
2New York-New Jersey12.0%3,196,8443,414,0323,695,7373,776,83512.6%12.5%11.8%
3Long Beach11.8%3,419,4353,820,9954,102,3053,719,72113.5%14.0%13.1%
4Savannah7.1%1,664,8231,865,8082,087,4202,229,0116.6%6.8%6.7%
5Vancouver, British Columbia5.4%1,505,9431,677,8031,736,6561,709,3985.9%6.1%5.6%
6Northwest Seaport Alliance*4.4%1,409,1571,384,4951,490,7281,388,1525.6%5.1%4.8%
7Manzanillo4.2%1,138,4341,236,4921,358,7151,334,9244.5%4.5%4.3%
8Virginia ports4.2%1,155,2191,236,5631,289,3181,318,1984.6%4.5%4.1%
9Houston4.0%894,4291,073,9131,198,6311,251,4873.5%3.9%3.8%
10Charleston3.4%885,264950,0031,015,6771,061,0583.5%3.5%3.2%
11Oakland3.1%856,407881,174953,373967,7083.4%3.2%3.0%
12Montreal, Quebec2.7%716,911743,931834,057858,3432.8%2.7%2.7%
13Prince Rupert, British Columbia2.2%437,125523,906569,051678,7001.7%1.9%1.8%
14Lázaro Cárdenas1.9%524,293564,146625,338610,4572.1%2.1%2.0%
15Veracruz1.7%454,599512,249543,570546,5861.8%1.9%1.7%
16Baltimore1.7%423,629468,658505,355520,3361.7%1.7%1.6%
17Miami1.6%417,747418,788458,742503,7301.6%1.5%1.5%
18Jacksonville1.1%296,608323,816355,990352,5061.2%1.2%1.1%
19Altamira1.0%259,637308,599322,712329,6841.0%1.1%1.0%
20Philadelphia1.0%230,100277,496295,817327,0360.9%1.0%0.9%
21Port Everglades1.0%337,253367,839376,194315,6681.3%1.3%1.2%
22Halifax, Nova Scotia**0.9%231,797279,602280,695273,1800.9%1.0%0.9%
23Mobile0.7%100,574118,171144,642207,1030.4%0.4%0.5%
24Wilmington, Delaware0.6%172,403172,645176,338191,6130.7%0.6%0.6%
25Boston0.5%121,040132,514149,843150,7330.5%0.5%0.5%
Total Top 25 North American ports
Inbound Trade
93.0%25,343,67627,370,09129,418,98629,277,154   
Total US ports in Top 2572.9%20,074,93721,523,36323,148,19222,935,882   
Total Canada ports in Top 2511.2%2,891,7763,225,2423,420,4593,519,621   
Total Mexico ports in Top 259.0%2,376,9632,621,4862,850,3352,821,651   
         
Total all North American ports
Inbound Trade
100.0%27,045,56429,029,24531,273,08731,476,352   
Total US ports79.2%21,644,56023,029,89524,811,97524,918,590   
Total Canada ports14.1%2,891,7763,225,2423,420,4593,519,621   
Total Mexico ports86.3%2,509,2282,774,1083,040,6533,038,141   
 
Ranking includes container ports in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, omitting ports in U.S. territories and possessions.
US TEU count includes all international containerized ocean borne cargo loading at US ports. Lakes cargo data as available.
*Results are combined to reflect the results of Seattle and Tacoma, members of The Northwest Seaport Alliance.
**Halifax volume includes empty containers.
Sources: Mexico — Ministry of Communications and Transportation, www.sct.gob.mxf; Canada — Ports, websites.
US — PIERS, www.piers.com, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit.

 

JOC Top 25 North American Ports

Exports. Ranked by 2019 laden TEU
Leading the North America outbound container trade in 2018 were the Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with a combined volume of 2.8 million TEU, decreasing of 1 percent year over year, representing 15.7 percent of the overall North America outbound container trade.
The JOC Top 25 container outbound ports in North America in 2019 represented 95.6 percent or 16.6 million TEU of the 17.3 million TEU in the total North America outbound laden container trade. The total volume of these top 25 outbound ports in 2019 rose 1.3 percent year over year, ahead of the total North America outbound trade's rose of 1.2 percent. Among these top 25 outbound ports in 2019, 17 were US ports; four, Canadian ports; and four, Mexico ports. By market share, among these top 25 outbound ports, US ports led with 74.8 percent of the total North America trade, Canada held a 14.3 percent share, and Mexico held a 11 percent share.
2019 2019TEU VolumeMarket Share
RankNorth American PortMarket Share2016201720182019201620172018
 
1Los Angeles9.0%1,626,0781,634,3651,593,4401,565,54910.4%10.1%9.3%
2New York-New Jersey8.2%1,302,4141,372,4541,423,2201,422,6088.3%8.5%8.3%
3Savannah8.1%1,225,8401,305,6461,343,8961,404,0467.8%8.1%7.9%
4Long Beach7.3%1,277,9321,241,8971,260,8411,260,1648.2%7.7%7.4%
5Houston7.1%916,451948,3831,029,8791,225,0005.9%5.9%6.0%
6Vancouver, British Columbia6.5%1,100,6881,101,6471,119,5921,121,9747.0%6.8%6.5%
7Northwest Seaport Alliance*5.2%951,646910,763902,331908,0016.1%5.6%5.3%
8Montreal, Quebec5.1%730,655793,738845,294883,9014.7%4.9%4.9%
9Virginia ports5.1%934,108959,265882,884876,5316.0%5.9%5.2%
10Oakland4.7%811,051797,102748,694808,8295.2%4.9%4.4%
11Charleston4.6%728,165781,507764,104793,6624.7%4.8%4.5%
12Manzanillo4.4%713,549773,876822,915763,6384.6%4.8%4.8%
13Jacksonville2.8%476,200500,113528,012485,8583.0%3.1%3.1%
14Port Everglades2.4%419,466434,660444,967408,5402.7%2.7%2.6%
15Altamira2.1%303,934340,489344,514356,0701.9%2.1%2.0%
16Miami2.0%361,052350,389346,193341,1282.3%2.2%2.0%
17Veracruz1.8%270,754344,732358,950314,3051.7%2.1%2.1%
18New Orleans1.7%261,289297,499275,459297,3591.7%1.8%1.6%
19Halifax, Nova Scotia**1.6%248,925279,640266,750273,5111.6%1.7%1.6%
20Lázaro Cárdenas1.4%220,863209,541238,935234,8101.4%1.3%1.4%
21Baltimore1.3%226,171234,912216,086220,3571.4%1.5%1.3%
22Prince Rupert, British Columbia1.1%166,292165,946207,116192,0701.1%1.0%1.2%
23Palm Beach0.9%130,909135,296140,218151,4210.8%0.8%0.8%
24Mobile0.8%117,520133,166125,559133,1760.8%0.8%0.7%
25Wilmington, NC0.7%104,900103,555118,125115,8810.7%0.6%0.7%
Total Top 25 ports in North America
Outbound Trade
95.6%15,626,85216,150,58016,347,97416,558,390   
Total US ports in Top 2571.7%11,871,19212,140,97112,143,90812,418,111   
Total Canada ports in Top 2514.3%2,246,5602,340,9712,438,7522,471,456   
Total Mexico ports in Top 259.6%1,514,4081,694,0091,742,4651,654,370   
         
Total all North American ports
Outbound Trade
100.0%16,256,75416,850,49617,099,35017,325,523   
Total US ports74.8%12,396,56412,676,82612,689,01612,955,660   
Total Canada ports14.3%2,246,5602,340,9712,438,7522,471,456   
Total Mexico ports11.0%1,613,6301,832,6991,971,5821,898,407   
 
Ranking includes container ports in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, omitting ports in US territories and possessions.
US TEU count includes all international containerized ocean borne cargo loading at US ports. Lakes cargo data as available.
*Results are combined to reflect the results of Seattle and Tacoma, members of The Northwest Seaport Alliance.
**Halifax volume includes empty containers.
Sources: Mexico — Ministry of Communications and Transportation, www.sct.gob.mxf; Canada — Ports, websites.
US — PIERS, www.piers.com, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit.