According to the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s “Breakwater” newsletter, the first quarter was a robust one for international container shipping, with volumes strongest since 2005.
Total domestic and international container volumes increased by more than 14 percent for the month of March, and year-to-date volumes were up 10 percent.
March international container volumes performed strongly post-Lunar New Year. At 120,018 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), full imports grew almost 26 percent compared to March 2016. At 99,603 TEUs, full exports were up more than 9 percent in March, making it the strongest month for exports this year.
Total international TEU volumes, including empties, increased by almost 21 percent compared to March 2016.
Total domestic volumes for the month declined more than 8 percent compared to March 2016. Year to date, Alaska volumes declined almost 4 percent and are expected to decline 5 to 6 percent this year due to soft market conditions. Hawaii volumes, however, are expected to show modest growth for the year and have grown 2 percent year to date.
Meanwhile, March was the fifth largest month for cars in the past 21 years. Autos reached 44,317 units year to date, flat compared to the first quarter of last year. And driven by stronger demand from China, log volumes were up 76.1 percent to 62,753 metric tons compared to March 2016. Soft market conditions, on the other hand, led to a 16 percent drop (year to date) in breakbulk cargo, to 38,114 metric tons.