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6% growth for Charleston

Container throughput recorded by the South Carolina Ports Authority reaches 2.3M TEU in 2018.

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The SCPA has reported its third consecutive year of record container throughput, propelled by a strong end to the year that saw a 9.2% increase in container numbers in December, which was the strongest month in SCPA history. At the end of the year the SCPA had handled 2.3M TEU, up around 100,000 TEU on 2017.


The SCPA also reports “pier containers” (container unit numbers on a non-TEU basis) and these reached 1.3M in 2018.


"We are pleased to report our strongest December in history and record-breaking growth of our container business in calendar year 2018,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “January is already off to a strong start, and despite uncertainty in the trade industry we are optimistic that volumes will remain strong as we work to achieve our plans for 4.4%growth in fiscal 2019.”


The SCPA’s forecast for 4.4% growth in container volume this year highlights that it believes its 2018 growth rate, which like most US ports has been driven by shippers bringing forward imports in a surge towards the end of 2018 to avoid looming tariffs, is unsustainable. SCPA’s forecast of 4.4% is still, however, well ahead of the 2.3% increase in GDP for the US economy the US Federal Reserve is forecasting.


The SCPA is continuing to redevelop its facilities, including in 2018 opening a second inland location, Inland Port Dillon, strengthening the Wando Welch Terminal wharf for new, larger, cranes, and building the Leatherman Terminal. Phase One of this new facility is scheduled to open in 2021. The port is also scheduled to move into a new headquarters building adjacent to the Wando Welch Terminal later this month.


On the dredging front, work on the Charleston Harbour Deepening Project began in February, and the project was awarded $41.4 million in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fiscal Year 19 Work Plan. The port said “significant completion of the project” is expected in 2021.

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