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  May 18th, 2023 | Written by

Port Houston Volumes Buoyed by Strong Exports Amid Expected Slight Softening of Imports

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Port Houston’s container exports continue to outpace historic 2022 volumes. Loaded exports specifically are up 17% year-to-date compared to last year, due in large part to the demand for resin exports. In total, 1,026,260 loaded TEUs were handled through April at Port Houston, surpassing the 1 million-mark earlier in the year than ever before.

A slight softening of import container cargo compared to the record-breaking volumes of 2022 was expected and budgeted for this year. Although loaded containers at Port Houston declined by 10% in April compared to April 2022, they are up 3% for the year. Port Houston’s total container volume for the month of April declined by 8% compared to the same month last year, to 307,879 TEUs. Year-to-date total container volumes are flat at 1,241,910 TEUs thus far this year.

As we continue to move past the unprecedented times of the pandemic and the toll it took on the global supply chain, cargo activity appears to be normalizing locally and Port Houston has returned to a balance of imports and exports. In fact, through April Port Houston’s total container cargo consisted of 51% imports and 49% exports.

Port terminals are continuing a transition to cleaner equipment, with the recent arrival of 16 new yard mules for the container terminals. Purchased with the help of the Sea Port Environmental Grant, these new, clean diesel yard trucks will help mitigate emissions and optimize the movement of cargo around the terminals. In addition, three new neo-Panamax STS cranes are currently in-route to the Bayport Container Terminal as part of the overall plan for additional wharf space and capacity there. Bayport’s new wharf 6 is expected to be open to vessels in the third quarter of this year.

Steel continued to be the primary driver of tonnage growth at Port Houston’s multipurpose facilities in April. Steel imports were up 17% this month, reaching 442,037 tons. Total tonnage through all Port Houston facilities is up 1% through April.

Port Houston’s eight public terminals sit alongside the Houston Ship Channel, as do more than 200 private facilities. Collectively, Houston continues to be the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage, and an essential economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas, and the U.S. overall.