The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), a partnership between the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, recently released a report revealing a near 22 percent dip in its container volumes for the month of March due to COVID-19.
Comparatively, year-to-date volumes across the two ports are down 15.4 percent. This includes a dip in automobile imports (6.2 percent) and a drop in breakbulk volume (40 percent).
The ports also saw year over year decreases with full imports dropping 28.2 percent while full exports decreased 8.6 percent.
“Our industry is seeing an unprecedented scale of disruption on a global scale due to the coronavirus outbreak,” NWSA CEO John Wolf said during a recent virtual press conference. “As one of the largest gateways for trade in North America, we are managing our supply chain so that terminals remain operational in Seattle and Tacoma.”
The NWSA’s healthiest domestic trade partnerships continue to be with Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska alone accounts for approximately 80 percent of domestic containerized cargos and Puget Sound’s annual trade with the “North to the Future State” is estimated at more than $5 billion.
Wolf explained that he expects much of the same softness for the second quarter but remains hopeful for the second half of the year and beyond.
“With the anticipation that we will slowly open up the economy in the second quarter of this year — which, of course, is still uncertain — we expect that the third and fourth quarters will be stronger quarters in terms of total volume,” Wolf said. “We are hopeful that 2021 will be a much more robust year for us in terms of total cargo volumes, job creation, and economic activity through the gateway.”