2017 will go down as a good year for U.S. trade growth, but that’s coming on the heels of a rarity — two successive years of decline, something that had only happened once before in at least a quarter century.
Here is a look at the 10 U.S. seaports where exports have grown the most this year, with the top five outbound shipments for each. I will follow in the coming days with a look at the top airports and the top border crossings for exports and then tackle the imports for all three.
All told, there are more than 450 of these “ports” for international goods to enter and exit the United States. While total U.S. exports are up 6.13% this year, exports by ocean are up 10.98%. Air cargo trade, whether in the belly of passenger planes or on so-called freighters, is up 6.11% and border crossings, whether via truck, rail or pipeline, is up 2.02%. Ocean trade, by value, makes up 33.68 percent of all U.S. exports.
On the import side, overall U.S. imports are up 6.75% while ocean-borne shipments are up 7.51%. The value of air cargo is up 6.14% while border trade is up 6.08%. On the import side, 46.20% of all U.S. trade is via ship. All of the data is based on analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, which is through October, as analyzed by the company where I serve as president, WorldCity.
Eight of the 10 ports with the greatest increase in the value of their exports this year can attribute those gains to rebounding prices in the energy sector — just as they could attribute their losses in recent years to that same sector — and, to a lesser extent, the chemical industry. Four of the top 10 are in Texas and four are in Louisiana.
- Topping the list is Port Houston, which has seen the value of trade attributed to the port increase $6.16 billion. Here’s a look at the top five exports:
- Gasoline and other refined petroleum products rose 27.05% compared to last year to $14.76 billion.
- LNG, or petroleum-based gases 47.73% to $6.44 billion.
- Plastics rose 2.68% to $2.57 billion.
- Oil rose 137.55% to $2.05 billion.
- Ethers and related exports rose 16.34% to $1.73 billion.
2. Exports from the Port of Corpus Christi have grown the second most this year, up $4.69 billion. It’s top five exports:
- Gasoline rose 9.05% to $5.4 billion.
- Oil rose 355.48% to $4.52 billion.
- Halogenated derivatives of hydrocarbons rose 24.35% to $491.65 million.
- Grain sorghum rose 23.73% to $329.9 million.
- Cyclic hydrocarbons rose 18.59% to $322.51 million.
3. Exports from Beaumont, Texas have increased $3.16 billion. Its top five exports thus far in 2017:
- Oil rose 309.61% to $2.95 billion.
- Gasoline rose 21.58% to $2.54 billion.
- LNG, etc., rose 81.2% to $1.42 billion.
- Ethers, etc., fell 6.19% to $303.71 million.
- Cyclic hydrocarbons fell 1.66% to $136.17 million.
4. Exports from the Port of Los Angeles have increased $2.53 billion — and it doesn’t have to do with the energy sector:
- Cotton rose 73.39% to $1.49 billion.
- Frozen beef rose 72.95% to $894.06 million.
- Motor vehicle parts rose 19.19% to $872.45 million.
- Almonds and similar nuts rose 23.42% to $841.5 million.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people rose 14.13% to $594.2 million.
5. Exports from the Southern Louisiana ports around Gramercy have increased $2.32 billion. It is an oil story:
- Soybeans fell 2.51% to $3.98 billion.
- Gasoline rose 2.87% to $3.26 billion.
- Oil rose 886.35% to $1.85 billion.
- Corn rose 5.96% to $1.53 billion.
- Coal, briquettes rose 146.61% to $325.52 million.
6. The Port of New Orleans is sixth on the list, its exports up $2.27 billion. Its top five exports:
- Gasoline rose 47.71% to $5.81 billion.
- Soybeans fell 7.63% to $3.82 billion.
- Civilian aircraft and parts rose 16.85% to $3.51 billion.
- Computer chips fell 28.29% to $2.5 billion.
- Corn fell 12.98% to $2.41 billion.
7. Exports from Lake Charles, La., have increased $1.99 billion through October. Its growth is largely related to LNG, or liquid natural gas:
- Gasoline rose 25.25% to $2.43 billion.
- LNG, etc., rose 236.66% to $1.83 billion.
- Sodium or potassium hydroxide or peroxide rose 75.03% to $173.66 million.
- Petroleum products rose 25.71% to $157.84 million.
- Cyclic hydrocarbons fell 7.22% to $138.23 million.
8. Exports from Baton Rouge, La., are up $1.78 billion, with soybeans joining gasoline and other refined petroleum products as a big gainer:
- Gasoline rose 70.19% to $1.95 billion.
- Soybeans rose 35.27% to $1.37 billion.
- Corn rose 9.55% to $510.05 million.
- Soybean oilcake, other solid residue, rose 44.04% to $393.46 million.
- Acyclic alcohols rose 24.64% to $309.33 million.
9. The Port of Savannah is the second port on the list not tied to the energy sector, the other being the Port of Los Angeles. Savannah’s exports have increased $1.55 billion this year, with outbound shipments of cotton leading the way:
- Motor vehicles for transporting people fell 1.28% to $1.45 billion.
- Chemical wood pulp, fell 2.24 percent compared to last year to $1.11 billion.
- Civilian aircraft, parts fell 15.73 percent compared to last year to $930.82 million.
- Cotton rose 55.86% to $909.3 million.
- Misc. uncoated kraft paper, paperboard rose 16.35% to $786.09 million.
10. Freeport’s exports have increased $1.48 billion in 2017, with the top five exports:
- LNG, etc. have totaled $1.21 billion. The previous year, there were no exports in this category.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people fell 30.19% to $797.74 million.
- Oil rose 285.15% to $761.09 million.
- Sodium or potassium hydroxide or peroxide rose 49.15% to $260.88 million.
- Polyethers, epoxides and polyesters fell 17.7% to $125.07 million.
Seven of these 10 are also the fastest-growing major seaports, by percentage gain. Lake Charles, Beaumont and Corpus Christi all grew more than 60% through the first 10 months of the year. Freeport’s exports are up 57.90% while Baton Rouge is up more than 40%.
12 December 2017 | Ken Roberts | Forbes