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Business Boom: Ports Report Record-Setting 2017

Anyone wondering if U.S. and Canadian ports have finally recovered from the 2007-2009 recession has only to look at the record-setting numbers for 2017 that many have posted.

By Mary Lou Jay— 

Anyone wondering if U.S. and Canadian ports have finally recovered from the 2007-2009 recession has only to look at the record-setting numbers for 2017 that many have posted.

The Port of Halifax in Nova Scotia handled its highest-ever containerized cargo volume in 2017 – 559,242 TEUs – up 16 percent over 2016. The previous record of 550,462 TEUs was set pre-recession, in 2005. The port’s cruise industry also enjoyed record numbers in 2017, with 173 vessel calls carrying 292,722 passengers.

“There are a number of factors contributing to this growth, starting with a collaborative effort among key partners and stakeholders to increase cargo volumes. This group includes the terminal operators, ocean carriers, CN Rail, labor, tug operators and marine pilots,” said Lane Farguson, the port’s communications adviser. Global factors include the widening of the Suez Canal, the expansion of the Panama Canal, the raising of the Bayonne Bridge and the new alliances among shipping lines, which are bringing larger vessels to the port.

On the West Coast, “2017 was the best year of our 107-year port history,” said Mario Cordero, executive director, Port of Long Beach. He credits the port’s high numbers to its infrastructure investments and outstanding customer service.

“We, as a port, have probably invested more in infrastructure than any other port in the nation, $4 billion over a 10-year period,” he said. Another $3 billion in infrastructure spending is planned for the next decade.

The port’s geographical location for the Trans Pacific Trade Route has a provided another advantage. “Today, a container coming from Shanghai through Long Beach can get to Chicago 11 days sooner than any other trade route,” Cordero said.

Long Beach’s neighbor, the Port of Los Angeles, moved more cargo in 2017 than in any of its previous 110 years of operations: 9.3 million TEUs, a 5.5 percent increase over 2016’s record-breaking year.

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