WHERE WE AT?
In a recent story on the state of Mississippi’s port expansion plans, we took South Carolina’s elected and appointed officials to task for their failure to keep up with our state’s port competitors (again).
Talk about a broken record, right? Seriously … we’ve been banging this drum for years, arguing that South Carolina should be leveraging private investment to expand its port infrastructure like the vast majority of other major ports. Anyway, in our piece we made the following observation …
“Eight years ago, the port of Charleston was the fourth-busiest port in America. Now it’s not even in the top ten,” we wrote.
We received a few calls and emails after that piece ran indicating that this statement may not be entirely accurate based on the most recent data.
According to information compiled by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), Charleston ranked tenth nationally in terms of container volume in 2011 – assuming we’re not counting the Port of San Juan (which is located in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory). Charleston also posted a 1.2 percent increase in the number of TEU’s (twenty-foot equivalent units) that it moved last year – better than competitors in Long Beach and Seattle but worse than competitors in New York, Savannah and Virginia.
Through May of 2012, the AAPA ranks Charleston ninth in the nation when it comes to moving TEUs.
As for the total value of the cargo that passes through Charleston, the port ranked eighth nationally in 2011 according to U.S. Customs data. Meanwhile Zepol Corporation – which bills itself as a leading trade intelligence service – ranked the Port of Charleston ninth nationally in terms of inbound TEUs for the first quarter of 2012 (after ranking it eighth in the country in 2011). There’s also some good news there as Charleston and the Port of Houston are posting better gains than the rest of the country in terms of imports.
Translation? Our ports aren’t quite as bad off as we indicated they were in our previous post … although we maintain that our current approach isn’t working and that private investment in port infrastructure should be aggressively pursued, not pushed away.
Oh … it would also help if our governor Nikki Haley started playing for the home team as opposed to advancing her political career on the back of our state’s competitiveness.