Trade troubles mean three million tonnes less cargo through Port of Vancouver in 2019

Credit to Author: Derrick Penner| Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2020 14:00:30 +0000

Some of B.C.’s trade troubles were evident in a three-million-tonne decline in cargo shipments through the Port of Vancouver in 2019, mainly due to drops in oil, lumber and canola exports, according to statistics from the port authority Thursday.

The port’s 28 terminals handled 144 million tonnes of cargo in 2019, which was two-per-cent off the 147 million tonnes that went through its facilities in 2018. Despite the decline, terminals still saw a new record for grain shipments at 28.3 million tonnes.

Vancouver and Fraser Port Authority CEO Robin Silvester said in a news release that cargo movements waned in the second half of 2019 after hitting new record levels as of July 1.

“Despite these challenges, and during one of the most uncertain years for global trade, we still saw the second highest volume of cargo through the Port of Vancouver to date,” Silvester said.

However, total vessel traffic through port terminals also declined in 2019, according to the stats, with 41 fewer foreign ships calling on the Port of Vancouver — 3,104 in 2019 versus 3,145 in 2018, a decline of 1.3 per cent.

Export volumes were the biggest component of trade moving through the port, but the 114 million tonnes handled at terminals in 2019 represented a 2.6 per cent, or three-million-tonne, decline from 117 million in 2018.

The weakening of exports was offset slightly by a 128,285 tonne increase in imports to 30.2 million tonnes vs. 30 million tonnes in 2018.

Crude petroleum shipments, which hit record levels in 2018, saw the biggest drop in 2019 with 64 per cent less crude exported through the Westridge Marine terminal, 1.1 million tonnes in 2019 vs. three million tonnes in 2018.

By volume, thermal coal saw the next biggest decline in exports by 1.5 million tonnes to 11.2 million tonnes in 2019 from 12.7 million in 2018, a 12 per cent decline.

Canola, which was subject to an import ban by China for most of the year in an continuing trade dispute, saw exports through the Port of Vancouver fall 1.5 million tonnes to six million tonnes from 7.5 million in 2018, a 20 per cent drop.

Lumber exports through the port were down 13 per cent to 2.9 million tonnes in 2019 from 3.4 million tonnes in 2018. Log exports dropped seven per cent to nine million tonnes in 2019 from 9.7 million tonnes in 2018.

The Port of Vancouver saw a record number of containers move through its four container terminals, but that is because of an eight per cent jump in the number of empty containers shipped back to foreign destinations.

Terminals handled 3.98 million 20-foot-equivalent-units’ (TEUs) worth of containers in 2019, up 2,411 TEUs from 3.396 million in 2018.

But the number of containers carrying imported goods was down by 34,000 to 1.71 million TEUs in 2019 vs. 1.74 million TEUs. Stats showed imports of electronics, horticultural products and other miscellaneous goods were all down.

The number of cargo-carrying export containers increased 2,383 to 1.12 million TEUs in 2019.

However, terminals shipped out some 40,228 more TEUs-worth of empty containers in 2019, at 536,019 compared with 495,791 in 2018.

And the Port of Vancouver cruise terminal welcomed 347 arrivals and departures of cruise ships carrying some 1.1 million passengers, another record for the facility.