Imports boost Seattle-Tacoma port traffic

John Gillie: 253-597-8663

Strong import volumes more than compensated for weaker export goods traffic at the Pacific Northwest’s two largest seaports through this year’s first nine months, the Northwest Seaport Alliance reported Tuesday.

The alliance is a new operating union between the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.

The ports said their combined volume of cargo containers through last month exceeded that of the similar period in 2014 by 5 percent. Those volumes were led by imported goods in September, which rose by 2.8 percent. The number of full export containers declined in the same period by 4.3 percent.

Through September, the two ports collectively handled 2.8 million container units. At that pace, the combined ports will handle more than the 3.4 million container units they handled last year.

Other goods also exceeding last year’s pace include autos, up nearly 4 percent through last month. Breakbulk cargo, items too big or unwieldly to transport in containers, were steady, said the alliance.

On the negative side of the ledger, logs, grain, petroleum and molasses exports were down on weaker demand from China, higher dollar exchange rates and slowing Asian economies.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663