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S.C. Ports volume rebounds in July

Staff Report //August 17, 2020//

S.C. Ports volume rebounds in July

Staff Report //August 17, 2020//

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The S.C. Ports Authority said an increase in vehicles moved through the Columbus Street Terminal indicates a return to normalcy at automotive plants in South Carolina and across the Southeast. (Photo/file)

Following reports that the 2020 fiscal year ended 28% down from the year prior, the S.C. Ports Authority showed moderate recovery in July, a news release said.

The 2020 fiscal year began strong, with July through January on track for a record year before the global pandemic disrupted supply chains and business operations. The year ended down 28% from fiscal 2019, with 2.32 million TEUs — an industry measurement equivalent to a 20-foot container — handled at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals.

According to S.C. Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome, the authority doubled its container volume from 2009 to 2018. It set record volumes almost every month in 2019, and 2020 began just as strong with record volumes in the first two months.

“We are encouraged by some signs of an initial rebound in our container and automotive volumes, as well as an increase in imports and a decline in blanked sailings,” Newsome said. A blank sailing is one that has been canceled or rescheduled and doesn’t arrive on time.

“However, a more substantial recovery is dependent on the duration and intensity of the economic impacts from the pandemic and, ultimately, on a vaccine,” Newsome said. “We are hopeful for a stronger rebound throughout fiscal year 2021.”

The ports authority handled 176,974 TEUs at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in July. It moved 99,431 pier containers — boxes of any size — last month. That equates to a 12% increase from June but still down year over year.

The port handled 71,053 pier tons in July, up 13% year over year, and continues to grow and diversify its cargo base.

July also saw a 47% increase year over year in vehicles handled. It moved 25,128 at the Columbus Street Terminal, the highest count on record. The news release said this shows strength in the Ro-Ro segment for S.C. Ports and signifies a return to normalcy at automotive plants throughout South Carolina and the Southeast.