Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Port Tracker report points to slight overall growth in March

The most recent edition of the Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates indicates the federal budget sequester has the potential to curtail United States-bound import cargo growth at a time when trade is still growing, albeit at a very average pace.
By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
March 11, 2013

The most recent edition of the Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates indicates the federal budget sequester has the potential to curtail United States-bound import cargo growth at a time when trade is still growing, albeit at a very average pace.

The Port Tracker report said 1.33 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) were handled in January for the ports followed by Port Tracker, marking a 0.8 percent gain from December 2012 and a 3.7 percent gain compared to January 2012. This is the most recent month for which data is available.

The ports surveyed in the report include: Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, Houston, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, and Savannah, Miami, and the recent addition of Fort Lauerdale, Fla.-based Port Everglades.

The report is calling for the first six months of 2013 to hit 8 million TEU, which would be a 4.3 percent annual improvement. For all of 2012, the total TEU count was 15.8 million TEU, marking a 2.9 percent annual bump. The 2011 total was 14.8 million TEU, which was up 0.4 percent over 14.75 million TEU in 2010. Volume in 2010 was up 16 percent compared to a dismal 2009. The 12.7 million TEU shipped in 2009 was the lowest annual tally since 2003.

Port Tracker estimates February volumes, which are typically the slowest of the year, at 1.16 million TEU for a 6.8 percent annual gain. March is expected to rise 2.3 percent to 1.27 million TEU, and April is expected to be up 3.5 percent at 1.35 million TEU.

Regarding the potential impact of federal budget sequestration on port operations, the report cited how U.S. Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently said that spending cuts due to the sequester would result in port cutbacks that could cause Customs inspection of cargo containers to take up to five days, with ports also having to deal with immediate overtime pay cuts and mid-April furloughs, too.

“Retailers are aware of the impact of the cuts on Customs operations at the ports and are working to plan accordingly so the impact on merchandise headed for the store shelves is minimized,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “This is a situation the industry is monitoring very closely.”

Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said in the report that effects of sequestration on the economy coupled with the minimal GDP growth reported in the fourth quarter of 2012 (0.1 percent according to the second estimate) indicate there is nothing to indicate a strong resurgence of trade in 2013. Instead, he said it is more or less “steady as she goes” on the consumer front as caution prevails and savings increase.

“GDP is really barely holding on there, but at least it is positive and sustainable,” Hackett told LM. “Unemployment is showing some gradual improvement, too. It is all positive but not outstanding. There will be some growth over the next six-to-eight months, but it will not be dramatic. It is better than it is in Europe, where things continue to decline.”

Year-to-date, Hackett said things appear to be meeting expectations, aided by the fact that economic growth in the first half of 2012 was weak.

The effects of the sequester on the Customs front in terms of how it impacts port operations are not likely to be easily identifiable for three months or so, he said, as carriers are likely to adjust operations and be proactive in planning for disruptions in advance.

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

BNSF said that its 2015 capital expenditures will be allocated towards various areas of its business, including maintenance and expansion of the railroad to meet the expected demand for freight rail service, with 2015 representing the third straight year BNSF has invested a record annual capital expenditures investment.

While the ongoing labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) ostensibly going from bad to worse, following the ILWU’s announcement late last week that it was halting negotiations from November 20 through November 30, a Congressional group last week penned a letter to PMA and ILWU leadership expressing concern over the state of the negotiations.

The ongoing themes of tight capacity and carrier pricing power are still in full effect, much to the dismay of shippers, based on the most recent edition of the Shippers Condition Index (SCI) from freight transportation forecasting firm FTR.

Information abounds about the growing trend of electric lift trucks and the advantages and disadvantages of the electric solution. Amid all of the information from so many sources, what's the truth about electric lift trucks? This complimentary white paper breaks through the clutter to review why electric lift trucks are gaining in popularity and also to review their challenges, as well as their economic and environmental benefits.

Three weeks after initiating a coordinated series of slowdowns that have mired the major West Coast ports of Tacoma, Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach, the ILWU has pushed away from the bargaining table.

Article Topics

News · All topics

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA