Georgia Ports On Track To Declare Second Busiest Year | WABE 90.1 FM

Georgia Ports On Track To Declare Second Busiest Year

Dec 27, 2016

Georgia's ports are on track to declare this year as their second busiest ever.

The increase in traffic volume was a surprise turnaround for the state.

With the exception of February, during the first half of this year both imports and exports moving through Georgia ports were down from last year.

Georgia Ports Authority executive director, Griff Lynch, said most of the 3.4 million container units ships moved this year through Savannah and Brunswick were imports.

"A stronger U.S. dollar makes our goods more expensive to the rest of the world, and that hurt us,” Lynch said. “[The dollar] is still strong, however we are seeing a pickup in exports; one we didn’t anticipate, and we hope it will continue.”

In July, when the Panama Canal reopened, Lynch said imports and exports picked up.

"The market-share grab is clearly coming from the West Coast, so as the Panama Canal new locks opened up, that has had a very positive impact for shifting cargo to the East coast and Savannah has benefited from that greatly," he said.

Also, he said, the 2015 labor strikes on the West Coast meant traffic was diverted to Georgia's ports.

Lynch said some of the new businesses returned to the West Coast, but he’s focused on keeping as many clients as possible.

"If you're moving big, heavy stuff and moving it around the world, it's hard to beat the efficiency of these large ships," said Robert Puentes, president of the Eno Transportation Center in Washington, D.C.

He said 2016 was a mixed year for port traffic not only in Georgia, but across the country, picking up towards the second half of the year.

“Given that we are now post-recovery and consumer spending is inching up, America is buying more things and the U.S. is well positioned to continue to trade with growing parts of the world," Puentes said.

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