For the third consecutive month, the Northwest Seaport Alliance, a joint partnership between the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, has reported record low cargo volumes due the COVID-19 pandemic and its continued global economic fallout.
In a June 17 report, NWSA revealed it had processed close to 241,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May 2020, a year over year decrease of 23.8 percent. The two preceding months had seen year over year decreases of 21.6 and 23.5, respectively.
In fact, NWSA said in its report that the first five months of 2020 have seen an overall container volume dip of 18.8 percent — a total of 1,277,227 TEUs processed through the ports — when compared against the same period in 2019. This, NWSA said, marks “the softest five months” since the region began to bounce back from the Great Recession in 2009.
On a global scale, effects of the pandemic coupled with lingering trade disputes with China have caused the ports to experience a higher than normal occurrence of blank, or cancelled, sailings in recent months. The most recent NWSA report shows these blank sailings up from 39 in April, to 46 by the end of May. Meanwhile, domestic container volumes to Alaska and Hawaii also saw a drop, 6.6 and 4.7 percent, respectively.
NWSA’s report did reveal positive trends, however, for both petroleum and molasses cargo coming through the ports, up 36.7 and 7.8 percent, respectively.
“As seaports play a critical role in supporting the nation’s economic recovery, all marine cargo terminals in Seattle and Tacoma remain open and operational,” the June 17 report from NWSA read. “We continue to work closely with our terminal operators, labor, warehouse companies, and supply chain partners to ensure the gateway operates at a high level.”
The full report can be found online.