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January 2 2023

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38 Journal of Commerce | January 2, 2023 Maritime The big picture: Aer two consecutive years of strong growth in container volumes, ports in the South- east United States are anticipating a slow start to 2023 and focusing their efforts on increasing capacity to handle the next upswing in demand. Infrastructure projects will expand container handling capacity at the ports of Savannah and Virginia, while the Port of Charleston will have its first full year with a deeper, 52-feet harbor that allows it to handle ultra-large container ships. winter and spring months gave way to a similar situation in Savannah in July and August. Thanks to a 25 increase in container storage capacity at the port's Garden City Terminal, however, oper- ations remained fluid even when there were more than 40 vessels at anchor awaiting berth in Savannah. A look ahead: Early in 2023, the Geor- gia Ports Authority's (GPA) Garden City West Project will begin to open in phases, providing storage capacity for another 10,000 containers across 167 acres, taking the total capacity of the Garden City Terminal to over 100,000 units. The reconstruction of Savannah's Berth 1 will be finished in the summer, and a new GPA-backed transload facility will open around the same time. In Charleston, the biggest question is whether the launch of the South Carolina Ports Authority's chassis pool, scheduled for the end of March, will proceed on schedule after the US Customs and Border Protec - tion launched a formal investigation into Pitts Enterprises in October 2022 over whether the manufacturer evaded countervailing and antidump- ing duties on chassis made in China. Pitts is supposed to supply 11,000 units for the Charleston chassis pool. Officials at the Virginia Port Author- ity (VPA) will be focused on keeping projects due to be completed in 2024 on schedule. Dredging work to deepen the harbor to 55 feet and construction of a larger intermodal rail facility in Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) will continue throughout the year, and work will also begin on a $650 million expansion of the NIT North facility. The VPA in 2023 will award contracts for the two-year project, which entails the construction of 18 new container stacks to complement the 28 stacks in NIT South and 30 stacks in the Virginia International Gateway terminal. A new normal: That the busiest ports in the Southeast are gearing up for long-term capital improvements is a clear sign that they believe the growth seen over the last two years will endure beyond short-term dis- ruptions like the pandemic-induced surge in imports of the last two years or, more recently, the shift in cargo from the West Coast amid protracted labor uncertainty. JOC email: twitter: @arijashe A look back: Laden import volumes through Southeast US ports grew nearly 7 percent year over year between in the first ten months of 2022, thanks in part to shippers shift- ing discretionary cargo away from the West Coast to avoid congestion and potential disruptions related to West Coast longshore labor negotiations, according to PIERS, a sister product of the Journal of Commerce within S&P Global. However, uneven growth among those ports — with imports through Charleston, Savannah, and Virginia rising while volumes through Jacksonville, Miami, and Wilming - ton, N.C., fell — resulted in chronic backlogs of containers at marine ter- minals and vessels at anchor outside the busier gateways throughout the first half. Long vessel queues outside Charleston and Virginia during the The next swell Southeast US ports adding capacity to handle long-term volume growth By Ari Ashe Aer a strong 2022, Southeast US ports are focusing on expanding capacity in preparation for the next volume surge. RichEstrada / Southeast ports among the fastest-growing US import gateways in 2022 Year-to-date US containerized imports among top 10 US ports, January–October, in TEU, with year-over-year change -4.5% -4.5% 11.5% 11.5% 0.6% 0.6% 7.2% 7.2% 22.6% 22.6% 9.3% 9.3% 13.3% 13.3% -10.3% -10.3% -4.4% -4.4% -3.0% -3.0% Northwest Seaport Alliance Los Angeles NY-NJ Long Beach Savannah Houston Virginia Charleston Northwest Seaport Alliance Oakland Miami L L 0 2,000,000 4,000,000 2022 2021 So S Source: S&P Global © 2022 S&P Global ANNUAL REVIEW & OUTLOOK 2023

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