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Trade war, Panama/Suez upgrades help USEC, but hurt USWC ports

US east coast ports are enjoying accelerated cargo volume at the expense of the west coast because of infrastructure improvements, expanded sea routes and the China-American trade war, reports Washington DC-area Transport Topics (TTNews)

Trade war, Panama/Suez upgrades help USEC, but hurt USWC ports

US east coast ports are enjoying accelerated cargo volume at the expense of the west coast because of infrastructure improvements, expanded sea routes and the China-American trade war, reports Washington DC-area Transport Topics (TTNews)

02 December 2019 - 19:00

US east coast ports are enjoying accelerated cargo volume at the expense of the west coast because of infrastructure improvements, expanded sea routes and the China-American trade war, reports Washington DC-area Transport Topics (TTNews).

'Shippers have been shifting their sourcing of certain commodities from China to southeast and southwest Asian countries,' Mercator International vice president Steve Rothberg told TTNews.



'Many of the east coast ports have lower port charges, lower terminal charges than west coast ports and ocean carriers find themselves more inclined to favour those routes,' he said.



The Port of New York and New Jersey on November. 25 announced that it processed a record 666,381 TEU in October, a 1.1 per cent year-on-year increase, and volume was up five per cent in the first 10 months to 6,286,762 TEU.



East coast facilities are taking advantage of new sea routes created by the recent expansions of both the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal. Some facilities have spent billions of dollars on infrastructure so they can dock the bigger ships that can come though both channels.



Since the Suez Canal's widening was completed in 2016, more shippers are using it to navigate into the Mediterranean and cross the Atlantic, avoiding the Pacific altogether. Also in 2016, an expansion of the Panama Canal permitted access to 14,000-TEU ships, up from 4,500-TEU pre-expansion.



Thus, east coast ports are seeing an increased cargo volume from India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, as those nations gain new manufacturing jobs, often at the expense of China.



'We're beginning to feel the far-reaching effects of the US-China trade war on American exporters and manufacturers,' lamented Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka.



'We expect soft volumes in the months ahead and with the holiday season upon us, less cargo means fewer jobs for American workers. We need a negotiated settlement and the tariffs lifted.'



It's a different story along the east coast. The Port of Savannah had a record October, processing 428,382 TEU, an increase of 3.5 per cent from 2018's record-shattering 413,778.



'Georgia's market share continues to expand as new commodities come online and customers in new regions rely on our services,' said Georgia Port Authority executive director Griff Lynch.



Charleston and other southeast ports are seeing an increase in business because automaker BMW said it shipped more than US$8.4 billion worth of luxury cars built at its South Carolina BMW plant to foreign countries in 2018.



The Port of Virginia saw its October box numbers drop by 1.3 per cent to 266,976 from 270,538 in 2018, but the facility is running nearly five per cent ahead of 2018 and is on track for its fifth record-setting year.


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