In Issue 364 of the Sunday Spotlight, SeaIntel Maritime Analysis analysed the container volumes handled in the eight major North America East Coast (NAEC) ports. 2018-Q1 has been off to a decent start, as the container handling volumes in the eight major NAEC ports have increased a modest 6.4 per cent Y/Y to 5.5 million TEUs. More importantly, laden imports increased by 9.4 per cent, while laden exports grew just 1.9 per cent Y/Y, while empties handling increased by 6.9 per cent Y/Y. The port of NY/NJ remains by far the busiest NAEC port in 2018-Q1, handling nearly 1.7 million TEUs.
The chart shows the monthly development in container handling volumes in the past 24 months. All eight ports have seen largely stable throughput over the past two years, with only NY/NJ and Savannah seeing limited variability in some of the months. All eight ports saw a post-Chinese New Year upturn in handled volumes in March 2018 as the peak season approaches.
The port of NY/NJ was the busiest port in 2018-Q1, handling 1.7 million TEUs an increase of 9.6 per cent Y/Y. The port of Savannah increased throughput by 6.3 per cent to a little over 1 million TEUs. The ports of Jacksonville and Baltimore saw a considerably higher growth in container volumes of 23.1 per cent and 16.2 per cent respectively, although being the ports with the lowest volumes of 314,662 and 254,004 TEUs in 2018-Q1. With Q1 volumes of 535,538 TEUs, Charleston was the only port to see volumes decline Y/Y in 2018-Q1, by -3.2 per cent.
In terms of market share, there has been no significant changes with NY/NJ handling almost a third of the container volumes in NAEC. The only notable change was of Jacksonville increasing its market share by almost 1 percentage point Y/Y in 2018-Q1, and of Charleston seeing a 1 percentage point decrease in market share during the same period.
Commenting on the data, SeaIntel CEO, Mr Alan Murphy said, “While overall handling growth has been relatively mild, this has been primarily due to weak exports, with laden imports growing a very healthy 9.7 per cent Y/Y in Q1. Recent Transpacific volumes estimates from Container Trade Statistics suggested that the hitherto strong exports out of Asia to North America had collapsed somewhat in March but due to the sailing distance to the East Coast, this would not yet be reflected in the Q1 imports. It will be interesting to see if the sudden March weakening is reflected in the East Coast volumes in April/May, and in our upcoming analysis of West Coast handling volumes,” Mr Murphy added.