Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for August 9th, 2008

The Latest Port Statistics

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You expect a CEO to pat himself on the back – and for his flacks to dredge through the the figures to find a good story, but as often happens the latest press release is also revealing.

But let Gordon blow his horn first

overall cargo volumes dropped 5%

Oh. So not so good then.

In contrast to many West Coast ports, total container traffic increased
by 4%, reaching 1,223,390 TEUs. Port Metro Vancouver continues to rank third
among North American west coast ports in terms of foreign laden container
traffic, registering a 6% increase.

Ah, that sounds better, but isn’t admitting that that West Coast ports as a whole are seeing continued declines in container traffic admitting that the Gateway is based on a false premise? We were supposed to be getting a bigger share of a growing pie. Now it turns out that the pie has been shrinking. And when you look at the details, the story is not so good either
2008 ytd                2007ytd
Import Laden TEU              608,021                 593,246 +2%
Export Laden TEU               493,483                445,282 +11%

So the increase in import containers is only 2% – and that is the one thing that Falcon and others keep banging on about – the seemingly insatiable demand in the US for imported Chinese goods. In fact it is not that surprising that we are doing better than ports to the south of us, because most of the boxes are bound for Canadian destinations. And our economy has not yet tanked the way the US has. Though the people who buy and sell currencies seem less enamoured of our petrodollar these days.

I am also heartened by the export container figure, which shows that the biggest problem – storage of empty boxes – looks like diminishing. This growth is a reflection of a weaker dollar – in terms of Asian currencies. Exports from Canada and the US are now looking better value to Asian buyers, and more people there are now interested in spending their new found wealth on things like US built cars. After all auto fuel is still subsidised by some governments there. Mind you export volumes of cars are still tiny compared to exports – not that we are treated to those figures in the press release.

And we will have to wait for year end to get our hands on the longer term trend statistics.  But on the face of it I see no case for more container terminal capacity

Written by Stephen Rees

August 9, 2008 at 10:08 am