Containerized imports and exports through the Port of Tacoma waters saw double-digit growth last month, pushing container volumes up 47 percent compared to the same month last year.
Full containerized imports posted the most dramatic increase with a 62-percent gain to 114,176 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). Exports rose 41 percent to 81,567 TEUs.
The surge in international container volumes reflects shippers preparing for Lunar New Year, when factories in several Asian countries that export to the U.S. close their doors for one to two weeks. The holiday fell in mid-February this year. The volumes also continue to show the addition of the Grand Alliance, which began calling at Washington United Terminals last summer.
Domestic container volumes improved 6.5 percent to 63,829 TEUs. Through the second month of the year, Tacoma's total container volume reached 298,134 TEUs, an increase of 41 percent.
Breakbulk volumes saw their first dip in more than two years. Fewer breakbulk vessels calling Tacoma this February compared to February 2012 resulted in the 18 percent decline. Demand for agricultural and construction equipment overseas remains strong, and the port expects 2013 volumes to keep pace with last year.
Other year-to-date cargo volumes saw growth last month and include:
- Log exports rose 74 percent to 100,053 short tons as demand in China appears to be picking up and the lumber market improves.
- Auto imports continued to grow, up 18 percent to 26,040 units. A weaker yen is making such Japanese-made vehicles as Mazda more affordable.
- Intermodal rail lifts mirror the booming container volumes and posted a 51 percent gain.