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November 26 2018

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November 26 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 27 US Gulf Report Cover Story Special Report rubber was down slightly for the period, falling from imports of 363,081 tons in 2016 to 338,477 in 2017. Resins and forest products dominated the export side. During the first half of 2018, the port exported 281,809 tons of PVC resins and vinyl alcohol, and 179,055 tons of forest products. During 2017, the in the 25-kilogram (55-pound) bags used to load containers, Landry said, and are reluctant to switch to the supersacks that would be used if resin shippers switched to breakbulk mode. Theoretically, 25-kilogram bags could be packed into supersacks, and some carriers are looking at going after that cargo, but, "it's tough to get [receivers] to change modes," he said. "They may switch if container rates go up, but they'll have to be able to handle alternative modes. And some resins will rail to Savannah and Charleston, but only if it makes sense, because that adds costs." Total US resin exports dipped 0.9 per- cent in the first half of 2018, from 321,832 TEU in the first half of 2017 to 318,793 TEU this year, according to PIERS, a sister product of The Journal of Commerce within IHS Markit. The Port of Houston accounts for 41.5 percent of all US resin exports, handling 132,171 TEU in the first half of this year; New Orleans controlled 10.5 percent of the market and exported 33,451 TEU during the first half. The US Gulf dominates resin exports, holding 56.7 percent of the market in the first six months of 2018, com- pared with 27.9 percent for the East Coast and 15.2 percent for the West Coast. During 2017, New Orleans handled 13.5 percent of the Gulf Coast's contain- erized imports and exports, according to PIERS, or 406,420 laden TEU. The port's containerized exports outpace imports by about 2-to-1. Securing a sufficient supply of empty containers is an ongoing chal- lenge. Several container-on-barge services and a weekly KCS rail service between New Orleans and Dallas, launched in May, return empties to New Orleans and South Louisiana for loading with resins and other outbound cargo. However, "as fast as our exports are growing, we will have to find new sources for empties," Landry said. According to port-supplied data, New Orleans, which includes the parishes of Or- leans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard, imported 920,531 tons of iron and steel, breakbulk and containerized, during the first six months of 2018, along with 364,313 tons of aluminum and 166,804 tons of natural rubber, a breakbulk cargo imported from Southeast Asia in palettes or metal baskets and used primarily to make tires for compa- nies including Michelin and Goodyear. During 2017, 2.3 million tons of iron and steel came into the port, down 7.8 percent from 2016's 2.48 million tons. Aluminum was up strongly in 2017: 1,036,548 tons imported, after 665,154 in 2016, a 55.8 percent increase. Natural port exported 641,684 tons of PVC resin and vinyl alcohol, up 7.6 percent over 2016's 596,825 tons. Forest products jumped 27.8 percent, from 399,816 tons in 2016 to 510,485 tons in 2017. JOC email: twitter: @Janet_Nodar

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