Total imports along the East Coast have increased by 15%, while import traffic on the West Coast is down 4%, according to a new study by Zepol.
The leading reason for the shift in ports is due to activity by China. Imports from the country along the West Coast declined by 3%, but Chinese imports on the East Coast continue to skyrocket. Atlantic ports increased containers from China by 20% this year, and Gulf ports by a more dramatic 43%.
“Shipments are setting sail for Eastern ports even before the Panama Canal expansion is complete,” explains Zepol’s CEO Paul Rasmussen. “Shippers may be tired of West Coast backups, and with carriers adding more lines from Asia to the East Coast, it’s hard to blame them.”
The ports of Newark/New York, Savannah, and Houston had the highest increase in imports for the first half of 2015 (compared with the same time in 2014). The Port of Newark/New York increased in imports by 12%, Savannah rose by 32%, and Houston by another 26%. The port of Houston also had a surge in containers from China. The port brought in 53%t more Chinese containers already this year.
“Looking at these numbers, the port of Newark/New York’s imports are becoming competitive with Long Beach,” adds Rasmussen. “Upgrades to the Suez Canal and the focus on larger vessel infrastructure at Eastern ports certainly help pull traffic away from the Pacific.”