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An aerial view of a container terminal at Port Houston

Photo courtesy Port Houston

Port Houston Has Busiest July on Record as Peers Disappoint

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1414
August 22, 2023

As ports across the country grapple with falling cargo volumes, Port Houston is marking its busiest July on record as both imports and exports gained over last year.

The port handled a total of 344,163 TEUs July, representing a 5% increase from July 2022. Year-to- date, 2,202,538 TEUs were handled at Port Houston terminals, only 1% less than last year’s record volumes.

Port Houston experienced a 4% increase in loaded import volumes and a 15% increase in loaded export volumes in July compared to the same period last year. Year-to-date loaded export volumes are up 12% due to high demand for resins, resulting in a balanced flow of containers with imports representing 51% and exports 49% of throughput.

Port Houston received three new ship-to-shore cranes at the Bayport Container Terminal as part of an expansion plan to increase efficiency and capacity. The cranes will support service of the 15,000 TEU-sized ships expected to call upon the 2024 completion of the wharf.

“These continued investments at Port Houston terminals are part of an overall strategic plan that aims to facilitate smooth flow of goods, create new, good-paying jobs, and drive overall prosperity for our region,” said Roger Guenther, Executive Director at Port Houston. “The Houston market continues to thrive and we are well-positioned now and for the future,” Guenther added.

Meanwhile, total tonnage at Port Houston terminals is down 3% through July, with steel down 5% for July 2023 compared to last year, but auto import units have increased by 56% year-to-date compared to 2022.

Port Houston’s strong container performance comes as East and Gulf Coast ports continue to outperform West Coast ports amid a coastal shift in inbound cargo, which dates to the 2016 expansion of the Panama Canal but accelerated during pandemic and now-resolved labor disputes.

Among the nation’s top container ports, Houston ranked as the second best performer for imports in July behind Oakland, which experienced year over year gain more than 12%, according to industry expert John McCown. Long Beach and Los Angeles showed the weakest performance in July, with inbound cargo volumes down 27.9% and 24.2% yoy, respectively. Savannah and New York/New Jersey also saw import volumes decline by 8.6% and 6.5% yoy, respectively. Overall, the top ten container ports in the country experienced a 12.5% drop in July compared to the same month last year.

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