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Biggest US box ports achieve 2.7pc YoY increase in import volumes in July

THE top ten US container ports recorded better-than-expected 2

Biggest US box ports achieve 2.7pc YoY increase in import volumes in July

THE top ten US container ports recorded better-than-expected 2

27 August 2019 - 19:00

THE top ten US container ports recorded better-than-expected 2.7 per cent year-on-year import growth in container volumes in July, amounting to a total of 1,865,645 TEU.

The result supports the upbeat view of the transpacific market by Maersk Line that growth was mainly driven by the increased trend for Asian shippers to route their cargo through US east and Gulf coast ports, reported UK's The Loadstar.



Container imports for US east and Gulf coast ports last month rose by 5.6 per cent compared to July 2018, reaching 862,313 TEU, with the port of Savannah achieving the highest growth rate of 8.5 per cent.



Blue Alpha Capital analyst John McCown said the average capacity of vessels operating on the all-water Asia to US east coast loops, via the Panama Canal, was 58 per cent higher than before the waterway's expansion in 2016.



It was anticipated that the US west coast ports, with their shorter supply chain transit times, would begin to be impacted by the hikes in tariffs on Chinese goods last month. Indeed, Long Beach suffered a 9.9 per cent decrease in container throughput across its terminals. In contrast, the neighbouring port of Los Angeles hit a new record for the month, with an 8.7 per cent surge in imports across its quays.



Long Beach port's executive director Mario Cordero attributed the drop to 313,350 TEU to the impact of tariffs and warned of worse to come. Over in Los Angeles the mood was more bullish, after its terminals handled a record 476,438 TEU in July.



According to Mr McCown, the effect of 'on-off' tariffs has thrown import port performance out of kilter. He said the difference between the port ranges 'has been evident since October, as volumes have been buffeted by tariff concerns, leading to erratic front-loading'.



Speaking during Maersk's first-half earnings call conference last week, CEO Soren Skou painted a more optimistic picture of the impact of the tariffs on Chinese imports into the US. He said that despite the slowdown in imports, the 'drag from tariffs' has been 'quite manageable so far'.



Mr Skou attributed this to several factors: the weakening of the Chinese currency against the US dollar; the absorbing of some of the extra tariff costs by exporters through lower margins; and the relocation of US exports to other Asian countries outside China.


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