Outpacing the gross domestic product (GDP), Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) accounted for some 11.25 million 20-foot equivalent containers of import cargo (FAK, freight of all kinds) at the top 25 U.S. ports for the first six months of 2018. This is compared to 10.5 million for the same period of 2017, a 7.13 percent increase year over year.
Data from Descartes Datamyne indicates that the 25 busiest ports in the U.S. have remained mainly consistent with some changes. In overall FOB value of shipments coming into the ports, Tacoma dropped from number six to nine, Houston gained a position and Mobile, Alabama replaced Wilmington, North Carolina. Most of the ports showed a significant increase in NVO traffic. Los Angeles, the busiest harbor in the U.S., indicated a slight 1.13 percent decline.
Tacoma, now number nine in the listing, had small decrease but Seattle, both part of the Northwest Seaport Alliance, had a better than 20 percent increase. Since their merger in 2015, the two ports combined show a more than 10 percent increase in NVO import cargo.
America’s second and third largest ports, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey each had increased NVO cargo. Even number 25 on the list, Port Hueneme, CA, posted a more than 10 percent increase.
Read more about the Top 20 U.S. Ports in Descartes Annual Port Report.
NVOCCs book space on international transportation modes in large quantities at lower rates and sell space to shippers in smaller amounts. Small shipments are consolidated into container loads that move under one bill of lading (BoL). More favorable rates are passed on to the shipper. NVO cargo can be both full containers (FCL) or less-than-containerload (LCL), and represent a veritable general store of goods. The leading NVO import cargo includes appliances, electronics, wooden furniture, chemicals and resins.
New Shipping Alliances Drive NVO Traffic
The fluctuations can be attributed—among the factors— to the emergence of new shipping alliances that have changed where their vessels berth, based on the alliance-member ocean carriers and their need to consolidate port calls and rotations. The newest alliance, ONE, represents five major ocean carriers from Japan, Taiwan and Germany.
None of the figures consider ramifications, if any, of the tariff changes that have erupted in recent weeks. Some of the increases, however, may be attributed to overseas exporters moving cargo earlier than usual to beat the impact of tariffs that have either recently taken effect or are due to take effect in the coming months.
Bill Skinner, president of the NY/NJ Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association, noted to us in a phone call that the increase is only noteworthy if all cargo volumes increased and not just the NVO shipments. “The GDP is up 4.1 percent, which accounts for some of the increase,” he said. “The real story will be in how the next six months shape up to see if the steel and aluminum tariffs for China imports negatively impact those numbers or if we are seeing an improvement in the overall economy.” The tariffs are expected to hit a third of U.S. imports.
How Descartes Can Help
As the provider of the world’s largest searchable trade database covering global trade of 230 markets across five continents, Descartes Datamyne can help businesses keep pace with NVOCC, shipment, port, and commodity, trends, and more. Data is provided in an intuitive online format that makes it easy to research, analyze and discover meaningful market insight.