THE recently ended stalemate in US west coast docker talks and resulting labour go-slows has caused and estimated 150,000 TEU to be diverted to US east coast ports in 2014, says Drewry's Container Insight Weekly.
For the whole of last year, Asian exports entering all US gateways increased by 6.3 per cent year on year to 13.9 million TEU, with east coast volumes up 10.5 per cent compared to a 4.8 per cent rise in west coast flows. The US Gulf coast market saw an advance of 7.8 per cent.
"During the fourth quarter, the gap between east coast and west coast growth widened with imports landed on the US western seaboard posting an uplift of only 3.6 per cent while east coast loads rose by 13.4 per cent," Drewry reported Newark's Journal of Commerce.
"If one works on the premise that under normal circumstances cargo growth rates should be broadly similar across the US eastern and western seaboards, then it would appear that as much as some 150,000 TEU could have been diverted to the USEC during 2014."
Along the main USEC artery of the trade, November's 14.6 per cent year on year uplift in traffic from Asia was matched by a similar percentage gain in December.
According to the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index, the spot rate for 40-foot containers to the US east coast topped the US$5,000 mark in the first half of February 2015, more than double the rate to the west coast.
Drewry said the supply snapshot for January was not the complete story as the Maersk Line-MSC 2M Alliance's TP-11/America service was not at full strength. The analysts said carriers had also inserted extra sailings to cope with the higher demand.
"In particular, Zim has switched the three ships that it was using to offer ad hoc sailings in the Asia-North Europe trade during the latter half of 2014 to provide similar one-off sailings in this trade."