West coast congestion could drive clients to east coast ports permanently

West coast congestion could drive clients to east coast ports permanently

San Francisco: The diversion of shipping business from congested US west coast ports has proved a boon for docks and terminals elsewhere, not least Savannah, Georgia, the largest port in the southeast of the US.

And some of the benefits may stick long after the Pacific ports’ backlogs have cleared up, says an industry executive in Georgia.

Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority told a panel at the Jaxport Logistics and Intermodal Conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida that between 20% and 40% of the trade that switched could stick with the east coast. He said that many cargo owners and shipping lines realized that not all the delays were attributable to the long labour disagreement that was tentatively resolved on February 20.

The Port of Savannah ended 2014 with almost 14.5% more volume than the year before.

But Foltz also doesn’t want the trade swing to be too drastic.

“The port system in the US is fragile, and we need both coasts to be healthy,” Foltz said. “When one of the coasts catches a cold, it puts undue pressure on areas on the other coast that aren’t capable of handling the volume.”

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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