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US–Carib/Central America trade slips for first time in four years    25/11/2019
Total container volume between the United States and the Caribbean and Central America slipped 0.4 percent to 2.37 million TEU in the first nine months of 2019.

Container cargo trade between the United States and the Caribbean and Central America declined for the first time since 2014 during the first nine months of 2019. Through September, total US-Caribbean/Central America container volumes slipped 0.4 percent to 2.37 million TEU compared with the same 2018 period, according to data from PIERS, a sister company of within IHS Markit.

Growth in imports, which slowed from 4.8 percent in the January-September period last year to 1.8 percent in 2019, was unable to offset a decline in exports, which fell 2.2 percent year over year to 1.29 million TEU after rising 4.8 percent in the same nine-month period in 2018. Imports represent the lion’s share of container trade between the US and Central America (62.2 percent), while exports are the main driver in US trade with the Caribbean (76.7 percent).

The overall decline in volume was more pronounced among the top 10 US ports in the trade, which saw their combined volume to and from the Caribbean and Central America slip 2.3 percent to 1.77 million TEU.

Only three of the top 10 ports registered declines in volume during the period. The Port of Jacksonville surpassed in-state competitor Port Everglades to take the top spot on the list despite a 7.8 percent decline in volume that caused the North Florida port’s share of the trade to drop from 17.2 percent to 16 percent. Everglades, meanwhile, saw its US-Caribbean/Central America share drop from 17.2 percent last year to 15.4 percent in the first nine months of 2019 as throughput fell 10.9 percent to 365,776 TEU.

The largest gains were seen at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, which grew its market share from 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent on the back of a 12.8 percent surge in volume, and the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, which saw a similar bump in market share (from 5.4 percent to 5.8 percent) on an 8.7 percent throughput increase.


Among the top 15 container carriers operating services in the US-Caribbean/Central America trade, eight recorded increases in volume. Crowley Maritime maintained its status as the largest carrier in the trade, despite its volumes sliding 5 percent to 390,646 TEU compared with the first nine months of 2018.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. saw the largest percentage increase, with volumes jumping 12.5 percent year over year to 144,649 TEU, surpassing Great White Fleet (up 2.8 percent to 141,088 TEU) to become the sixth-largest carrier in the trade. Regional player TOTE Maritime, on the other hand, saw the largest decline, ceding the No. 4 spot to Dole Ocean Cargo (up 3.2 percent to 203,473 TEU) as its volumes fell 16.9 percent to 165,018 TEU.



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