Loaded Exports Begin Slight Rebound with Trade Agreement; Port Monitoring Developments in Asia

February 10, 2020

Contact: Joseph D. Harris
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Loaded Exports Begin Slight Rebound with Trade Agreement; Port Monitoring Developments in Asia
RMT Volumes Continue Growth; Construction at NIT 80% Complete

NORFOLK, VA – The Port of Virginia’s® loaded export cargo volumes grew nearly 2 percent as agricultural products are beginning to flow again to China as a result of the lifting of the trade tariffs in mid-January.

“The agreement the federal government and China came to in mid-January will go a long way to restoring export volumes of agricultural products moving across The Port of Virginia,” said John F. Reinhart, the CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We anticipate seeing a rebound in those cargos in February, March and beyond, but the concerns related to the Coronavirus are creating some new uncertainty in the industry.”

January’s cargo volumes were down more than 5 percent – 12,877 TEUs – when compared with January 2019. Loaded exports were up nearly 1,400 TEUs, or 1.8 percent, and the volume at Richmond Marine Terminal grew by nearly 250 units, or 7.3 percent.

Empty containers for export fell more than 27 percent – 13,882 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) – as a result of the uncertainty being created by the Coronavirus, an increase in blank sailings, an extension of the Chinese Lunar New Year closures and quarantines in China.

“We are speaking with our ship line customers to better understand their operating posture, expectations and needs as the Coronavirus issue continues to unfold,” Reinhart said. “We know that ship calls at, or through some Chinese ports are down and we are closely monitoring, along with our federal partners, to see if this situation is going to have an effect on our cargo volumes. What we are seeing is fewer and fewer empties being repositioned for loading in Asia as a result.”

“This remains a very challenging trade environment and we are adapting,” Reinhart said. “When we consider the big picture, a significant amount of progress being made here. The dredging to make Virginia the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast is well underway, we are delivering turn-times in the 30-minute range to motor carriers, our dwell-time for rail cargo is best-in-class and at NIT (Norfolk International Terminals) the capacity expansion project is eighty percent complete and set for delivery this fall.

“We are operating efficiently and have the capacity to grow the volume – container, ro-ro, breakbulk and project cargo – through The Port of Virginia.”

January Cargo Snapshot

  • Total TEUs – 227,234, down, 5.4%
  • Loaded Export TEUs – 79,328, up 1.8%
  • Loaded Import TEUs – 108,884 down, .8%
  • Total Containers – 126,634, down 5.6%
  • Virginia Inland Port Containers – 2,222, down 34.1%
  • Total Rail Containers – 39,844, down 12.6%
  • Total Truck Containers – 81,898, down 2.6%
  • Total Barge Containers – 4,892, down 1.6%
  • Richmond Barge Containers – 3,654, up 7.3%

The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create more than 400,000 jobs and generated $92 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.