Zepol found that a hefty chunk of businesses have switched from using Pacific to Atlantic and Gulf ports this year. Total imports along the East Coast have increased by 15 percent, while import traffic on the West Coast is down 4 percent.
China is the leading culprit for the supply chain shift. Imports from China along the West Coast declined by 3 percent, but Chinese imports on the East Coast continue to skyrocket. Atlantic ports increased containers from China by 20 percent this year, and Gulf ports by a more dramatic 43 percent.
“Shipments are setting sail for Eastern ports even before the Panama Canal expansion is complete,” explains Zepol’s CEO, and trade data expert, Paul Rasmussen. “Shippers may be tired of West Coast backups, and with carriers adding more lines from Asia to the East Coast, it’s hard to blame them.” The ports of Newark/New York, Savannah, and Houston had the highest increase in imports for the first half of 2015 (compared with the same time in 2014). The Port of Newark/New York increased in imports by 12 percent, Savannah rose by 32 percent, and Houston by another 26 percent. The port of Houston also had a surge in containers from China. The port brought in 53 percent more Chinese containers already this year.
“Looking at these numbers, the port of Newark/New York’s imports are becoming competitive with Long Beach,” adds Rasmussen. “Upgrades to the Suez Canal and the focus on larger vessel infrastructure at Eastern ports certainly help pull traffic away from the Pacific.”