US Port Trends: East and Gulf Coasts Gain Momentum

An in-depth look into the shifting dynamics of US ports, emphasizing a movement away from the West Coast in favor of the East and Gulf Coast ports.

US Port Trends: East and Gulf Coasts Gain Momentum
Photo by Chenyu Guan / Unsplash

Recent data and industry observations suggest a significant shift in containerized imports in the US, marking a movement away from the West Coast ports in favor of the East and Gulf Coast counterparts. Jason Miller's analysis on LinkedIn reveals a notable decrease in imports through the West Coast ports, with metrics highlighting:

  • West Coast: June 2023 imports were down 22% from June 2022, and settling around 2019 levels.
  • East and Gulf Coasts: In contrast, June 2023 recorded a 17% rise from June 2018 and 2019 levels.

This trend, Miller pinpoints, stems from importers investing heavily in transloading facilities and distribution centers near the East and Gulf Coast ports and the shifting import volumes from China towards South Asia.

Source: Jason Miller, LinkedIn

Lazar Gacevski's response to Miller's insights further underscores this shift. He attributes it to factors like the West Coast's diminished capacity, higher operational costs, and the geographical distance from the main body of consumers in the Midwest and East.

Validating these observations, the Port of New York and New Jersey recently celebrated a peak, processing an impressive 725,479 TEUs in July - its highest since October 2022. A sharp contrast is seen with the Port of Los Angeles, which witnessed a 26% drop in TEUs processed YoY in July.

The strength of trade at the East and Gulf Coast ports continues unabated through the Panama Canal, despite current congestions. The canal remains the favored route for container carriers, even with conservation measures that elongate wait times. Roughly:

  • 40% of all US container traffic navigates the canal annually.
  • $270 billion worth of cargo passes through, emphasizing its critical role in US trade.

Sources: Jason Miller: LinkedIn , Lazar Gacevski: LinkedIn , FreightWaves

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