THIS IS WHAT LOST COMPETITIVENESS LOOKS LIKE …
We did a big post earlier today on the latest data from the S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA), so please forgive us for posting another maritime-related item.
We did think it was worth noting, though, that the first U.S. east coast stop for the COSCO Development – a 1,200-foot long beast of a boat that’s capable of carrying up to 13,092 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers – won’t be the port of Charleston.
Nope. This ship is headed north – to Virginia, which is actively collaborating with Georgia at the expense of the Palmetto State.
Why is this ship avoiding Charleston? Good question.
Turns out the answer has nothing to do with harbor depth (although Virginia’s shipping channels are deeper than South Carolina’s) and everything to do with land-based infrastructure. Virginia’s port terminals are simply able to get containers off of ships – and onto railroads – faster than any other port on the eastern seaboard.
That’s the probably the sort of infrastructure enhancement the S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) probably should have been pursuing years ago – instead of a harbor-dredging project of dubious benefit.
In addition to its mounting competitive disadvantages (and operational inefficiency), Charleston is about to be crowded out by a realignment of the global shipping industry.
Three new international shipping alliances – which control an estimated 90 percent of global maritime traffic – are reconfiguring their trade routes. Which state is getting left out in the cold?
You guessed it … South Carolina.
According to a new report from Drewry, a London-based maritime research firm, Virginia and Georgia will each receive an estimated 20 inbound and 20 outbound calls per week from vessels affiliated with one of the big three alliances.
Charleston? It will only receive around 14 inbound and 14 outbound calls per week from alliance vessels.
Not good …
Charleston used to be one of the nations’ top five ports. Now it barely ranks in the top ten. Meanwhile, the government that runs its facilities has totally squandered its chance to build a facility on the last, best deepwater port location on the eastern seaboard (in job-starved Jasper County).
This website has repeatedly called on state leaders to do away with South Carolina’s failed government management model and pursue a “landlord-tenant” arrangement for its port facilities. Under such an agreement, the state would retain ownership of vital infrastructure assets but allow them to be managed privately – with an eye on profits, not politics.
This is exactly what has happened in Virginia – which leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital in its recent port expansion plans.
Will that ever happen? Who knows … but until it does, expect bureaucrats and politicians to continue squandering one of our state’s most compelling competitive advantages (leaving taxpayers to foot the bills).
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