Strong dollar, port congestion driving down NWSA box volumes

Tacoma, Washington, USA - December 5, 2021: Empty shipping ports await container ships to unload and ease the congestion at shipping ports around the United States.

Total container volume at the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) for the month of September decreased a heavy 15.5 per cent compared to 2021 levels.

Total container volume for the month decreased to 285,315 twenty-foot equivalent units TEU.

In September full imports and exports declined 18.9 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, year-over-year.

The result is a year-to-date volume drop of 7.3 per cent to 2,633,054 TEU, with full imports and exports declining 11.4 per cent and 21.7 per cent, respectively.

According to the NWSA, reduced vessel calls continue to negatively impact the ports’ numbers, driven in large by congestion at other ports.

Not only this, but major retailers also built up inventories earlier in the year — contributing to weaker than normal peak-season volumes, NWSA wrote.

Moreover, the strong dollar is creating headwinds for many export agricultural commodities, making them less cost competitive in the global market.

Domestic container volumes increased 0.7 per cent compared to year-to-date September 2021.

Alaska volumes increased 2.4 per cent while Hawaii volumes declined 6.4 per cent.

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. recently announced a new transload facility in Tacoma, which will open in November. The operation complements the direct, container-only joint service BNSF Railway launched in August between its Tacoma facility and Chicago.

In October, Ray-Mont Logistics signed a lease for Terminal 10 in Seattle. Ray-Mont’s business supports the growth of agricultural exports, with 8.1 of the 13.19-acre site to be used as a containerised transload facility focused on agricultural products.

World Distribution Services (WDS) announced the opening of a new 300,000-square-foot distribution facility in Tacoma in June. The facility will support UWL, who has contracted with Swire Shipping on an express ocean service from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Seattle.

NWSA reported a slight increase in volumes in August as operations continue to suffer from ongoing disruptions.

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