After several years of record cargo performance, Port of Tacoma cargo volumes flattened in 2007 due, in part, to a softening US economy, a weakening national housing market and the rising cost of inland transportation.
From 2002 through 2006, Tacoma set successive containerized cargo records, with volumes growing from 1.5 million teus (20-foot units) to 2.1 million teus. In 2007, the Port’s container volume totaled 1.9 million teus.
“Ports are at the forefront of national and worldwide economic trends. Consumer demand is cyclical and cargo volumes follow these economic factors. At the Port of Tacoma, we’re looking to the future by investing in the success of our customers and the economic health of our region,” said Port Commission President Dick Marzano, emphasizing the Port’s five-year, $953.6 million capital improvement program that focuses on expanding the Port’s terminal, rail and road capacity.
Port of Tacoma Executive Director Timothy J. Farrell expects a recovery in 2009, when Tacoma containerized cargo volumes are forecast to rise to new record levels. “Over the long-term, world trade is expected to triple by 2030. We have an opportunity to capture this trade growth for the economic benefit of the communities we serve,” he said.
The Port of Tacoma’s non-containerized cargoes remained strong in 2007. Total tonnage was up 3%, grain held steady at 6 million tons, breakbulk was down 4%, and the Port’s automobile volume finished the year up 5%.
The Port of Tacoma’s 2007 cargo volumes were:
- Total Tonnage: 19.564 million tons (up 3%)
- Containerized Cargo: 1.93 million teus (down 7%)
- Breakbulk Cargo: 123,647 tons (down 4%)
- Autos: 175,074 units (up 5%)
- Intermodal Lifts: 481,102 (down 19%) ’ Grain: 5.97 million tons (down 1%)
“We are particularly pleased with the performance of our auto business,” said Farrell. “Each of our auto customers (Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki) had strong years, introduced new models and strengthened their dealer networks. As we continue to invest in this business, we forecast greater volumes ahead.”
While cargo volumes declined in 2007, Farrell notes that the Port’s financial performance remained strong. The Port closed 2007 with $97.6 million in operating revenue ’ a 6.3% increase from 2006.
Port Commission President Marzano says the Port of Tacoma is working to plan and build the facilities and infrastructure that will be needed to keep the Port competitive in the future. “In 2007, we announced major agreements that will bring NYK Line to Tacoma at its own 168-acre (68-hectare) terminal and a redevelopment and expansion of the TOTE (Totem Ocean Trailer Express) Terminal,” he said. “Investments like these not only provide a place for our customers to be successful, they create new jobs and business opportunities throughout our region and our state.”
The Port of Tacoma’s 2008 cargo forecast includes:
- Total Tonnage: 20.1 million tons (up 3%)
- Containerized Cargo: 2.05 million teus (up 6%)
- Breakbulk Cargo: 131,000 tons (up 6%)
- Autos: 187,300 units (up 7%)
- Intermodal Lifts: 525,350 (up 9%)
- Grain: 6.0 million tons (flat)