THE number of laden containers entering the US east coast ports in 2015 increased 12.6 per cent year on year to 7.9 million TEU.
In stark contrast, imports via US west coast ports were up 0.4 per cent, says the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), the shipowners group representing 65 per cent of world's tonnage.
While the US east coast ports experienced a surge in incoming traffic, the protracted dock labour dispute and resulting port congestion stunted US west coast growth last year.
"Due to the expansion of the Panama Canal and the lower fuel costs brought about by the lower oil price, we expect to see even more of the Asian imports head towards the US east coast ports.
These ports are currently preparing to cater to ultra-large containerships in the near future," said BIMCO analyst Peter Sand.
BIMCO's US east coast traffic data shows that imports peaked in March with 711,000 TEU of loaded containers, an increase of 30 per cent when compared to March 2014.
Only in December did traffic underperform, declining 0.2 per cent against 2014, reported New York's Maritime Global News.
The US east coast's busiest port of New York and New Jersey handled a total of 6.4 million TEU in 2015, with loaded containers growing by 9.2 per cent in 2015 to total 3.2 million TEU. The Port of Savannah experienced the highest growth rate of 20.4 per cent over 2014, after handling 1.6 million TEU of loaded containers.
On the US west coast, the quantity of loaded containers entering the ports was virtually unchanged at 10 million TEU in 2015, growing only 0.4 per cent from the previous year.
While more and more loaded containers arrived at US ports last year, most of them were leaving empty.
And the west coast ports were hit the most in this respect, with volumes down 10.2 per cent year on year to 4.9 million TEU. East coast ports exported 5.2 million TEU of loaded containers, a slide of 0.4 per cent when compared to 2014.