By Stas Margaronis, AJOTA downturn in car shipments from abroad in the wake of the March Japanese earthquake and tsunami is expected to be temporary as terminal managers project that the Roll On Roll Off (RoRo) business at U.S. ports will pick up toward the end of 2011. Frank Fogarty, senior vice president with Portsamerica, Newark, New Jersey notes: “We had been experiencing an improvement in Ro/Ro business particularly in the cars during the early part of 2011 but that improvement evaporated after the Japanese earthquake when a shortage of car parts reduced car production in Japan and this slowed down our imports. Having said that we believe the downturn in temporary and we will see an improvement in the fall.” Fogarty says that the Ro/Ro business is largely a car carrying business and that most imported vehicles come from Japan, but also Korea and Europe “where we see imports of Mercedes, Volkswagens and BMWs.” In the United States the major Ro/Ro ports are: Newark, Baltimore, Brunswick, GA, Jacksonville, Long Beach, Richmond, CA. San Diego, Tacoma. The principal export port for heavy Ro/Ro shipments is the Port of Baltimore including U.S. mining equipment, tractors and farm equipment. Fogarty says” the Port has done a great job attracting this business.” While the Panama Canal widening is expected to impact U.S. ports in the container trade, Fogarty does not expect much impact for car carriers: “We do not expect any major changes in the trade…The car carriers do not require the same draft as container ships, typically they range from 32 feet to at most 37 feet, so the 40 foot + draft requirements for ports handling the big container ships are not an issue.” Jeff Burgin, senior vice president Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals, Wilmington, California says his company is seeing “a healthy growth in both heavy equipment and car exports from the United States to China, Australia and Russia. Grays Harbor Burgin says the company is particularly pleased with the development of a new terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor, Washington “where we developed an export service of Chrysler vehicles and heavy equipment including Caterpillar earthmovers such as dump trucks as well as farm equipment from John Deere and Case New Holland. This ‘over high and wide’ business is doing very well.” Burgin says officials at the Port of Grays Harbor were extremely supportive of the new terminal becoming a success and this effort was enhanced by a very supportive community. The principal markets for these products are Vladivostok, Russia and China. In China, Chrysler has developed a very good market for its Cherokees and Jeeps vehicles, he says. Pasha developed a partnership with a Norwegian company Sien Car Carriers and “after a very difficult year in 2009, they are doing much better in 2011.” After shipping to the Far East, the car carrier vessel goes to Mexico to pick up General Motors cars and after pickups and deliveries of vehicles in Los Angeles goes and back up to Grays Harbor. In Grays Harbor, Pasha employs 40-50 people for the Chrysler business and 70 people handling the heavy equipment shipments. Burgin was particularly complimentary about the work done by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members: “ We are particular fortunate to have the services of ILWU Local 24 based in Grays Harbor who have done a phenomenal job for us. They saw the challenge getting this terminal up and running and rose to that challenge.” Hawaii Chuck Patton, senior vice president for Pasha Group based in Corte Madera, California, is seeing a slowdown in the company’s trade to Hawaii, but ascribes this to trends in the national economy. Pasha currently operates a U.S. built car carrier to Hawaii:  “Currently we have one carrier that goes to Hawaii every two weeks. We were seeing some improvement in our Hawaii business in 2011. I would put the rebound in Hawaii in context with the overall U.S. recovery as they are similar. The effect of the