PORTS in Canada and Mexico are benefitting from the congestion at US west coast ports and the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is to monitor the trend, according to FMC member Richard Lidinsky.
"Canadian and Mexican ports continue to grow more rapidly than US ports, with Prince Rupert container volume rising 13.8 per cent last year and Manzanillo, Mexico, increasing at an 11.2 per cent rate," Mr Lidinsky said.
He discussed the use of Canadian and Mexican ports in an update of a 2012 FMC report that questioned whether the US Harbour Maintenance Tax was causing diversions of cargo from US ports.
The 2012 report attracted controversy, with two of the FMC's five members criticising its methodology and conclusions, the Newark's Journal of Commerce reported.
Three years after the first report, "we have seen that shippers are not going to stop diverting cargo through Canadian ports, and that Mexican ports continue to present another option for those individual shippers looking for alternative routes," Mr Lidinsky said in an update that he said represented only his views.
Canadian and Mexican ports have become increasingly attractive because of US port congestion, an issue to which the FMC has given priority during the last year. He noted that industry comments the FMC collected for its 2012 report included statements that importers could shift cargo to ports such as Prince Rupert, British Columbia, if the west coast encountered labour unrest or instability.
"This proved to be particularly prophetic during the severe port congestion experienced in the US west coast ports during this past year," Mr Lidinsky said.
He said west coast congestion made 2014 "the most active year for cargo diversion", and that increasingly large ships and the 2016 expansion of the Panama Canal will present additional challenges to US ports.
During the first half of 2015, Vancouver's share of US west coast container throughput, including empty boxes, rose to 13 per cent from 11.5 per cent a year earlier, and Prince Rupert's west coast market share rose to 3.3 per cent from 2.4 per cent.
Seattle-Tacoma's share rose to 11.15 per cent from 8.8 per cent, but market share declined for the US west coast ports of Los Angeles (32.5 per cent from 34.1 per cent), Long Beach (27.3 per cent from 27.9 per cent), and Oakland (7.3 per cent from 11.2 per cent).
Source : HKSG.