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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Conradie.

Import Cargo To Hit 2 Million Containers For First Time Since Last Year

Next month’s inbound cargo volume at the United States' major container ports is expected to top 2 million units for the first time since last autumn as imports grow despite new supply chain challenges, according to the Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

U.S. imports are continuing to increase despite another disruption impacting U.S. ports. 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.” - Jonathan Gold (National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy)

The Port of Baltimore has been closed to vessel traffic since a container ship struck a major bridge on March 26, collapsing the span and blocking the only shipping channel into the harbor. Baltimore is not included in Global Port Tracker’s national totals because its data is reported later than other ports, but the shutdown is having a regional impact and cargo that would normally go there is being diverted to other East Coast ports. The port handled 48,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units – one 20-foot container or its equivalent – in January.

Meanwhile, carriers have 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. A word of caution, however, is that any further pressures on capacity could seriously impact the market.” - Ben Hackett (Hackett Associates Founder)

The first half of 2024 is expected to total 11.7 million TEU, up 11% from the same period last year. Imports during 2023 totaled 22.3 million TEU, down 12.8% from 2022.


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