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U.S. Seaport Outlook 2014

Key findings from the report

East ports growing
Of the 13 seaports tracked in this study, 2013 TEU volume was 3.3 percent higher than 2007, which, for many seaports was a banner year. West Coast seaports are 6.8 percent below their ‘07 peak levels while East Coast ports exceed their volumes by 19.1 percent.

Fifty-five percent of 2013 TEU volume came from West Coast seaports, while the remaining sum originated from the Gulf and East Coast. In 2007, the divide was 61-39.

A supply chain executive's biggest nightmare is the stoppage of goods flowing into and out of their warehouses. The history of labor strikes and disruption are causing a shift in port selection as companies put their “eggs in multiple baskets.”

The Big Apple is still on top
Our PAGI score methodology reveals the Port of New York / New Jersey ranked first for the third consecutive year. The Port of Long Beach is second, while Los Angeles rounded out the top three. A combined Los Angeles and Long Beach, however, would easily take the top-spot, based on sheer cargo volume alone.

Second- and third-tier seaports
Savannah, with consistent volume growth over the past decade, continues to lead the second tier of ports. Much of the cargo is bound for Atlanta, which from an industrial perspective, has had strong absorption gains during the first half of the year. Jacksonville, previously in the second tier, now tops the third grouping; annual TEU volume was flat and available blocks of industrial space have decreased.

Neighborhood rivalry
Seattle’s loss continues to be Tacoma’s volume gain after NYK, OOCL, Hapag-Lloyd and Zim moved their operations; the four lines are members of the G6 Alliance. Los Angeles lost CMA CGM when they defected to Long Beach in 2010.

Panama—are we there yet?
A financial dispute (and subsequent resolution) has pushed the expansion’s completion from April 2015 to the first quarter of 2016. The project is 76 percent finished.

Can you handle it?
The Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, Virginia and Baltimore are post-Panamax ready. New York / New Jersey will come online later this year, while Houston, Miami and Jacksonville are expected to come online in 2015.

Industrial vacancy is generally higher in transshipment corridors such as Savannah and Virginia. It varies in gateway corridors based upon the inventory’s average age.

Opportunities abound
The Southeast has lagged other U.S. regions in its recovery, but this appears to be changing, given absorption gains in Atlanta. Elsewhere, Charlotte is evolving as a hub market thanks to a new inland port with connections to Charleston. Baltimore, aside from being post-Panamax ready, will soon have a near-dock intermodal facility that will be incorporated into CSX’s National Gateway double-stack network.

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