The Asia-USEC volumes have been in constant growth since 2016. At the same time, the share of the transpacific imports has been changing, a reduction to the West Coast and an increase to the East Coast. The expansion of the Panama Canal locks effective in 2016 pushed USEC ports to increase their capacity. In 2017 the first 10,000 TEU vessel arrived at New York. In September 2020, the 15,000 TEU CMA-CGM Brazil has been the largest container vessel to ever call USEC ports.
Will this trend continue? Why?
The historic large share of the Asia-US volume has been assigned to the USWC ports. In 2010 it accounted for almost 70% of the total. Now in 2020 the USEC accounts for 50% of the total. The port of Savannah has experienced their highest volume ever in August 2020. Despite of the COVID19 irregularities in trade, the increase of the USEC import volumes from Asia follows the following patterns:
The US mid-Atlantic and Central corridors have been served by expensive overland intermodal services from South Pacific ports. With direct services from Asia to newly enhanced USEC ports, the intermodal costs have been reduced.
Population and GDP
Some of the highest net migration increases in the last few years happened in the South East and with this, an increase in the GDP of the same metro areas. High performing Metro Areas (MSA) such as Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville and Charlotte in the South East and Dallas and Austin have become attractive regional economies.
The US-China ‘trade wars’ and the implementation of the China+1 strategy for suppliers has increased the volumes from South East Asia origins. The South East Asia volumes routed via Suez to the USEC will keep increasing with well-designed ASI-EUR-USEC services.
2020 and Beyond…
Trade patterns in 2020 pointed to premium FAST services in the transpacific, i.e. Asia-USWC services to support the surge in the demand, despite the overland costs. The Increase in demand of South East Asia volumes will support the services via Suez.
The future port investments to accommodate 18,000++ TEUs mega-vessels seem possible only for Nova Scotia, Canada. These services via Suez aim to cover the US Midwest and some north Atlantic areas with drastic limitations for other USEC ports. The use of the Neo-Panamax locks for the USEC ports will still leave some US south central and mid-Atlantic corridor areas under an expensive intermodal cost unless there is more focus into the USGULF ports coverage.
Reduced lead time and most efficient End-to-End intermodal costs are the drivers for the change in the transpacific import patterns. These changes will fuel investments in port enhancements in the US or even to new interoceanic focused ports such as the Novaporte Mega-Terminal in Canada or the Tehuantepec Isthmus Land Bridge (CIIT).