According to a recent report from the Pacific Maritime Shipping Association (PMSA), ports up and down the West Coast of the U.S. collectively posted gains in market share in 2016 in terms of the TEUs—twenty-foot equivalent units—they processed. In coming to that conclusion, the PMSA report took into account a number of factors, including container weight, and whether the TEUs were outbound or inbound.
Here are some of the key findings from that report:
- The containerized import market share of the United States West Coast (USWC) rose “from 47.4% in 2015 to 49.2% in 2016.”
- By weight, the USWC share “jumped from 39.4 % in 2015 to 40.2% in 2016.”
- On the export side, the USWC share “rose from 31.7% in 2015 to 34.5% in 2016. Also increasing was the USWC share of the declared weight of containerized exports from mainland ports, from 35.4% in 2015 to 39.6% in 2016.”
Measurable gains in spite of some challenges
This overall growth becomes even more impressive when considered against the backdrop of problems some of the ports faced.
The Port of Long Beach, for instance, felt the impact of the loss of business caused by Hanjin Shipping’s bankruptcy in August. As a result, the number of inbound loaded TEUs in December fell there by 8.2% from the same month a year earlier. But the 22.7% year-over-year increase at the nearby Port of Los Angeles helped balance things out. And the combined gain of those two ports in American’s largest maritime complex was 7.8% for the final month of 2016, 11.8% for the year.
With the Seoul-based SM Shipping set for an April launch of its first service string connecting Asia and the USWC, it looks like the Port of Long Beach is poised to overcome the hit it took from the loss of Hanjin.
In 2016 the Port of Oakland handled 2.369,641 TEUs for one of its busiest years ever. No small feat, considering that a year earlier, its second-largest terminal operator declared bankruptcy and abruptly ceased operation.
Meanwhile, the total TEUs handled at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma—the Northwest Seaport Alliance—rose 2.4% from the number in 2015.
Outlook for the future
The PMSA report says that the high value of the dollar should continue to keep import volumes on the upswing throughout 2017. And the expected cuts in corporate tax rates are likely to keep the dollar strong.
Looking ahead, John Slangerup, Port of Long Beach CEO, said, “The uneven global economy, industry financial pressures, weak U.S. export demand and the introduction of mega-sized container vessels to West Coast ports have created dynamic conditions for the maritime industry that will continue to play out over the coming year.”
But in spite of the various wild cards in the mix, the recent and continuing gains in market share at the West Coast’s ports point in a positive direction.