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Port Tracker: US ports start normally, but adding mega ships is madness

IMPORT cargo through US major ports should see its traditional buildup toward the summer despite difficult year-on-year comparisons, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Port Tracker: US ports start normally, but adding mega ships is madness
09 March 2016 - 21:21

Port Tracker: US ports start normally, but adding mega ships is madness
IMPORT cargo through US major ports should see its traditional buildup toward the summer despite difficult year-on-year comparisons, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.
But with cargo volume down, Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said decisions to add new super vessels to routes between Asia and the US west coast risk of "chaos".
"Does this make sense? Absolutely not," Mr Hackett said. "It flies in the face of financial and economic wisdom and totally ignores the state of the freight market."
Said NRF vice president Jonathan Gold: "Comparisons are still complicated because of last year's labour trouble at the west coast ports but should clear second half of the year.
"Year-over-year numbers are skewed but on a monthly basis imports are building normally as the back-to-school season approaches."
Ports surveyed handled 1.5 million TEU in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. 
That was up 4.4 per cent from December and 21.4 per cent from unusually low figures in January 2015, the month before a new contract with dockers was signed to end a near-shutdown at west coast ports. 
February was estimated at 1.4 million TEU, up 17.1 per cent from the same month in 2015 and also skewed by last year's congestion. 
March is forecast at 1.35 million TEU, down 22.2 per cent from the flood of traffic seen as the backlog of cargo began to move through ports at this time last year. 
April is forecast at 1.49 million TEU, down 1.8 per cent from last year; May at 1.56 million TEU, down 3.4 per cent; June at 1.54 million TEU, down 1.6 per cent; and July at 1.61 million TEU, down 0.4 per cent.
The first half of 2016 is expected to total 8.8 million TEU, down 0.2 per cent from the same period in 2015. Total volume for 2015 was 18.2 million TEU, up 5.4 per cent from 2014.

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