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Published: 16 March 2017      

Charleston surges

Container volume at Charleston surged 11.3% in February ahead of Chinese New Year.

The timing of the Chinese new year holiday period has a dramatic effect on US port throughput figures. This year the lunar new year period came early, beginning on January 28. For US west coast ports the hangover is felt two weeks after the party.  

“The Lunar New Year typically results in slower trade since businesses in China — the world’s No. 2 economy and the Port’s primary trading partner — close for a week or more to observe the holiday. The impact on the Port is seen two weeks afterwards, accounting for the time it takes vessels to cross the Pacific," the Port of Long Beach explained.

Long Beach duly had a very soft February, with the 498,311 TEU handled representing a decline of 11.2% on February 2016. Los Angeles, which had a record month in January as cargo arrivde ahead of the holiday, also saw throughput drop in February, with the 625,381 TEU handled representing a 12.2% decline on February 2016. 

Due to the longer sailing distance from Asia the new year dip will be felt later on the USEC. The South Carolina Ports Authority reports that volume through Charleston was up 11.3% in February to 175,820 TEU. This continues the strong growth in the port’s fiscal year to date, with volume rising almost 9% to 1.4M TEU. 

"Last month's volumes reflect strong growth over last year, and we handled the highest pier container volume ever during a February," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "Looking ahead, spring is traditionally a busy season for us, but volumes may be inconsistent due to the implementation of new shipping alliances."

Charleston continues to make progress in the intermodal rail sector, with its Inland Port Greer handling 9,540 rail moves in February, driving the facility's fiscal year-to-date rail volume 25.8% percent higher than the same period last year. Inland Port Greer has handled 73,205 rail moves since July. 


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