Container imports at the Port of Seattle fell back 27.8 percent in May from the same month a year ago in a broad decline in international shipping at Pacific Northwest ports.
The Port of Tacoma reported containerized imports fell 15.2 percent year-over-year in May and both Washington state ports showed exports flattening out this spring.
Seattle’s loaded container export volume grew 1.1 percent over May 2010 but slipped back slightly from April to May, to the lowest level since February. Tacoma said container exports expanded 3.5 percent in May compared to last year, but the loaded volume also slipped 3.8 percent from April’s export total.
The export figures sent a poor sign of outbound demand at ports that are important gateways for agriculture shippers.
But the containerized import volume also suggested a slowdown at the ports with the peak shipping season on the horizon. The Pacific Northwest ports also face growing competition from ports in Canada for inbound volume from Asia.
Seattle’s overall international loaded container volume was up 1.2 percent in the first five months of the year over the same period a year ago. But the import side was down 4.9 percent year-over-year in the January-May period.