West Coast Ports Recover, Imports Rise
Imports are expected to exceed those of April 2014 this month as recovery continues at West Coast ports, according to a report released last week.
The Global Port Tracker, a monthly report from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates, indicated the nation's major retail container ports are expecting an 8 percent increase in import cargo volume. This comes about seven weeks after a tentative, five-year labor agreement allowed port activity to resume on the West Coast.
“Progress is being made but there’s still a lot of cargo waiting to be loaded onto trucks and trains, and moved across the country even after it’s unloaded from the ships,” Jonathan Gold, National Retail Federation vice president for supply chain and customs policy, said. “The situation is getting better but we’re still far from normal.”
The report indicates East, West and Gulf Coast ports handled 1.2 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), a 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent, in February—typically the slowest month of the year. March numbers have been estimated at 1.48 million TEU, a 13.5 percent increase over 2014. April is predicted to have 1.55 million TEU while numbers through August continue to trend about 5 percent higher than 2014 with 1.57, 1.54, 1.58 and 1.61 million TEU in May, June, July and August, respectively. The first half of 2015 is forecast at 8.6 million TEU, a 3 percent increase.
“The disruption on the West Coast appears to be over and great measures are being taken to clear the backlog of ships sitting offshore,” Ben Hackett, Hackett Associates' founder, said. “Of course, all those ships being discharged are causing landslide issues as workers try to get containers out of the terminal gates and onto trucks and rail.”