SC PORTS SEES SIGNS OF MODERATE RECOVERY IN JULY AS UPTICK IN ASIAN TRADE SEEN
August 14, 2020
South Carolina (S.C.) Ports Authority is seeing signs of a moderate recovery beginning to emerge at the start of the fiscal year 2021 amid the ongoing global pandemic.
S.C. Ports handled 176,974 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in July.
S.C. Ports moved 99,431 pier containers, which measures boxes of any size, in July and pier containers were up 12% from June, showing a positive trend for the first month of the fiscal year 2021, but volumes remain down year-over-year.
The port said in a statement that five scheduled blank sailings remain affecting volumes at the port, while the remaining blank sailings, which are coming from Northern Europe, will make a total of 70 this year.
Uptick in Asian trade
Although exports and imports were down overall, S.C. Ports saw an uptick in Asian imports in July, pointing to a positive economic trend, it said.
“We are encouraged by some signs of an initial rebound in our container and automotive volumes, as well as an increase in imports and a decline in blank sailings,” said Jim Newsome, S.C. Ports President and CEO said.
“However, more substantial recovery is dependent on the duration and intensity of the economic impacts from the pandemic, and ultimately, on a vaccine. We are hopeful for a stronger rebound throughout the fiscal year 2021.”
The Port handled 71,053 pier tons in July, up 13% year-over-year. Inland Port Greer reported 10,832 rail moves last month, while Inland Port Dillon had 2,778 rail moves.
Highest recorded vehicles handled
S.C. Ports reported the highest July on record for vehicles handled. It moved 25,128 vehicles at Columbus Street Terminal in July, a 47% increase year-over-year.
The Port noted that this shows strength in the ro-ro sector for S.C. Ports, and signifies a return to normalcy at automotive plants throughout South Carolina and the Southeast.
“From 2009-2018, we doubled our container volume. In 2019, we set record volumes nearly every month. The first two months of 2020 also saw record volumes before the pandemic disrupted businesses globally,” Newsome said.
“I am confident that we will weather this uncertainty and come out stronger,” he added.
S.C. Ports continue to grow and diversify its cargo base. The Port had one of its biggest economic development wins in its history last month when Walmart announced plans to invest US$220 million into a new distribution centre in Dorchester County, boosting port volumes by 5%.
Insfracture developments on-track
S.C. Ports noted that it also remains on schedule with its fully-funded infrastructure projects. The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is on track to achieve a 52-foot depth, making it the deepest harbour on the East Coast.
Upgrades are also ongoing at Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant, while construction continues at the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston; the container terminal is on track to open in March.
"These combined efforts will enable S.C. Ports to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously and up to a 19,000-TEU container ship," the Port noted in its statement.
"S.C. Ports has invested heavily to grow its footprint to ensure ample capacity and big-ship capabilities, and those efforts are coming to fruition this fiscal year."