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Import Cargo to Hit 2M Containers for First Time Since Last Fall; Jonathan Gold and Ben Hackett Discuss

Import Cargo to Hit 2M Containers for First Time Since Last Fall; Jonathan Gold and Ben Hackett Discuss


WASHINGTON, DC
Wednesday, April 10th, 2024

Updates regarding import cargo came in earlier this week. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates provided the latest Global Port Tracker report; within it, the retail experts shared that inbound cargo volume at the nation’s major container ports is expected to top 2 million units for the first time since last fall. This denotes that imports are growing despite new supply chain challenges.

Jonathan Gold, Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy, National Retail Federation“United States imports are continuing to increase despite another disruption impacting U.S. ports,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “As retailers have adjusted to limits on the use of the Panama Canal and the Red Sea, we now face the shutdown of the Port of Baltimore to vessel traffic. While it is not expected to have a national impact, the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge shows the ongoing need for flexibility and resiliency in every company’s supply chain. We are monitoring the situation closely as retailers who are affected adjust their shipping plans to ensure cargo is getting to where it needs to be.”

As the organization highlighted, the Port of Baltimore has been closed to vessel traffic since a container ship struck a major bridge on March 26, collapsing and blocking the only shipping channel into the harbor. The shutdown is reportedly having a regional impact, and cargo that would normally go there is being diverted to other East Coast ports.

Ben Hackett, Founder, Hackett Associates“The Baltimore bridge accident will likely shift container imports and exports to New York/New Jersey, Virginia, and other surrounding ports until a shipping channel is cleared, perhaps as soon as within a couple of months,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said.

Carriers have also rerouted around the Red Sea and Suez Canal after attacks on vessels earlier this year while adding additional vessels and increasing vessel speed to make up for longer voyages.

“Doing so has resulted in relatively stable supply chains within a short period of time,” Hackett said. “A word of caution, however, is that any further pressures on capacity could seriously impact the market.”

Inbound cargo volume at the nation’s major container ports is expected to top 2 million units for the first time since last fall as imports grow despite new supply chain challengesUnited States ports covered by NRF’s Global Port Tracker handled 1.96 million TEU in February, the latest month for which final numbers are available, down 0.3 percent from January but up 26.4 percent from the same month last year.

While ports have not yet reported March’s numbers, the Global Port Tracker projected the month at 1.8 million TEU. Overall, the first half of 2024 is expected to total 11.7 million TEU, up 11 percent from the same period last year. (Imports during 2023 totaled 22.3 million TEU, down 12.8 percent from 2022.)

To learn more about this report and its finding, click here.

More reporting on the state of the supply chain will be coming your way soon, so stay tuned!

National Retail Federation
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