Report: Container shipments up

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Container shipping into the United States is up, and most of those containers enter the country not at ocean ports but by truck or rail from Canada and Mexico, according to federal statistics.

A new U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics report states that in 2005, almost 26 million containers entered the United States, up 37 percent from 2000. Of those containers, 15 million came from Canada and Mexico.

The United States ranks second only to China in world maritime container traffic. U.S. container trade in 2005 and 2006 was more than double the trade of a decade ago. Two-thirds of the containers are imported into the United States, one-third exported to other nations.

Since 1996, however, world container trade more than tripled, resulting in a decline in the U.S. share from 16 per cent to 11 percent.

The report also noted:

  • The top 10 American container ports accounted for 85 percent of U.S. container traffic in 2005, up from 78 percent in 1995;
  • More than half of U.S. container traffic, nearly 55 percent, passed through West Coast ports in 2005, up from 42 percent in 1980; and
  • U.S. maritime ports are handling larger container vessels. The average size of container vessels calling at U.S. ports was nearly 45,000 deadweight tons in 2005, up from 38,000 deadweight tons in 2000.
  • The full text of “America’s Container Ports: Delivering the Goods” is available as HTML or as a 20-page PDF document at