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Import volume increases in American ports after COVID-19 shutdown

The United States has experienced a rise in imports at various maritime ports across the country as the economy continues to open up following the lifting of COVID-19 related shutdowns. With more stores reopening and restocking inventories, ports around the country have seen an increase in import volumes. Import volume increases In Oakland, import cargo volume increased by 6.4% in July 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, following a 1.9% increase in June. This uptick in import volume follows four straight months of decline in the nascent stages of the COVID-19 pandemic from February to June, but is tempered by a drop in exports for three straight months. July export volume, for example, has decreased by 6.4% compared to July 2019. The port has commented that it might be due to China’s restriction on waste product shipments, as scrap paper is one of the leading exports from Oakland. The port has also experienced a drop in its year-to-date cargo volume by 5.8% from 2019, as a result of a 10% drop in the shipment of empty cargo containers back to their original destinations.   However, Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes preached caution, commenting that “we’re not doing any victory celebrations because the trade outlook remains unclear as long as the pandemic is with us.”   Similar scenes are seen elsewhere in the country, such as in South Carolina, where ports have experienced a recovery, with a combined 176,974 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) handled at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in July. In addition, South Carolina Ports have also moved 99,431 pier containers in July, an increase of 12% from June. However, numbers are still lower year-over-year.   South Carolina Ports also witnessed its highest number of vehicles handled in July, with a total of 25,128 vehicles at Columbus Street Terminal, a 47% increase year-on-year. Despite the positive news, the volumes for South Carolina ports are still down year-on-year.   South Carolina Ports President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome remained optimistic, commenting that “we are hopeful for a stronger rebound throughout fiscal year 2021”, and also mentioned that a stronger recovery would be “dependent on the duration and intensity of the economic impacts from the pandemic, and ultimately, on a vaccine.”   Source: DCV Velocity News  

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