Data Shows 2015 Cargo Up 33% As Shippers Seek West Coast Alternatives
According to data from IHS’ Piers waterborne trade database, shares of US cargo shipments through East Coast ports rose to 43% in the first six months of 2015, up from 40% in the first half of 2014, as more shippers opt to avoid congestion due to work stoppages and increased volumes at West Coast ports. CNBC noted that the Piers data showed container volumes at East Coast ports are setting records this year, including at Savannah, Georgia, which is the fastest-growing US port. Shipments there rose 33% for the first half of the year to 805,571 TEUs, according to the Piers data. Meanwhile, data from import export firm Zepol found Savannah had a 31% boost in cargo for the first half of the year. Its data also concluded the port was the fastest-growing in the US. Gross Transportation Consulting president Larry Gross explained the shift, suggesting it first began in 2002 after “a devastating lockout at the West Coast ports.” He said, “What freight forwarders realized is they could no longer rely on a single port of entry and began to go to a four- or five-corner strategy.” This strategy means shippers are now using “multiple trade routes around the United States” including the Southeast, rather than simply relying on the West Coast. CNBC noted that Maersk and CMA are among the shipping lines that have increased their East Coast operations on “a long-term bet” that business will continue to increase.
What This Means For Small Businesses
News that the Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing in the US and is doing record business is a positive for small business owners in Atlanta, who will benefit from close proximity to one of the most efficient ports in the US. However, it remains to be seen whether this is a short-term response to recent West Coast disruptions, or if the trend will hold over the long term.
NFIB previously noted the labor issues still dampening business at West Coast ports. NFIB also reported on the US Senate’s debate of the Ports Performance Act, which would monitor ports to more effectively prevent shipping disruptions.
Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.