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Cargo Volumes Handled by U.S. Seaports on the Rise

Matt Ball on February 2, 2016 - in Corporate, Planning, Transportation

Seaports are seeing a steady rise in waterborne cargo volumes according to a newly released U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s report. Overall, 2014 freight tonnages increased 3.1 percent over 2013 totals.

The Corps of Engineers’ Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center tracks the commercial movement of U.S. foreign and domestic cargo and vessels. Based on the Corps’ new report, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports – said that while volume of goods moving through U.S. ports in 2014 boosted the nation’s economy, it placed added burden on America’s aging and deficient freight transportation network.

All told, freight volumes moving through U.S. seaports in 2014 reached a three-year high of 2.35 billion short tons. That figure includes both foreign (i.e., import/export) and domestic cargo shipped through and within the U.S. coastal, Great Lakes, non-contiguous and inland waterway ports.

Exports set a record for the fifth year in a row with a year-on-year increase of 3.7 percent to 647.8 million tons. Imports rose for the first time since 2010, up 0.3 percent to 760.9 million tons. Domestic cargo ended the year on a positive note, with coastwise, Great Lakes and inland waterway commerce posting gains from 2013 of 4.3 percent, 3.0 percent, and 5.8 percent, respectively.

“These figures tell us that America’s farm goods, raw materials and manufactured products continued to compete globally in 2014, while manufacturing and industrial interests, farmers and retail consumers here in the U.S. rekindled demand for imports,” said Kurt Nagle, American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) President and CEO. “While this is positive news for the American economy, the increased demand for goods places added strain on our already-overburdened freight transportation system, much of which is used to move cargo to and from our ports. In a 2015 AAPA survey, we found that one in three United States ports estimate they will require at least $100 million in landside connection upgrades to handle their projected 2025 freight volumes.”

Long term, according to AAPA’s analysis of the Corps data, the growth trend for U.S. cargo remained positive for foreign trade thanks to the export sector and marginal for the domestic trades.

The data in the Corps report features tonnage amounts for all types of waterborne cargo, including dry and liquid bulk, break-bulk, automobiles and containers. For similar data focusing on just containerized cargoes, please click here to reference AAPA’s Port Industry Statistics web page.

About AAPA Founded in 1912, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is the recognized and coordinated voice of seaports in the Americas. Our trade association represents more than 150 public port authorities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. In addition, association members include more than 300 sustaining and associate firms and individuals with an interest in the seaports of the Western Hemisphere. AAPA is dedicated to strengthening the ability of member ports to serve their global customers and create economic and social value for their communities. AAPA promotes the common interests of the port

Founded in 1912, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) is the recognized and coordinated voice of seaports in the Americas. Our trade association represents more than 150 public port authorities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. In addition, association members include more than 300 sustaining and associate firms and individuals with an interest in the seaports of the Western Hemisphere. AAPA is dedicated to strengthening the ability of member ports to serve their global customers and create economic and social value for their communities. AAPA promotes the common interests of the port community, and provides leadership on trade, transportation, environmental and other issues related to port development and operations. AAPA also raises awareness among the public, media, and policy makers about the essential role ports play within the global transportation system. AAPA headquarters is located in Alexandria, Virginia, approximately 5 miles south of Reagan National Airport, at 1010 Duke Street. The staff includes 14 full-time, and three part-time, employees. AAPA’s annual budget is approximately $2.7 million. AAPA is governed by its 10-member Executive Committee and 52-member Board of Directors. AAPA has 12 technical and three policy committees; there are 350 individual corporate and almost 200 individual associate members on the committees.

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