A study projects the state’s seaports to increase cargo tonnage by more than 32 million tons in the next five years to 142.4 million tons in fiscal year 2022-23.
Florida’s seaports handled 4.1 million TEUs in fiscal year 2018, up 10.3%, as both containerized tonnage and containerized cargo value also increased, according to a study released Monday by the Florida Ports Council.
The state’s waterborne tonnage remained steady at 110.27 million tons, but container tonnage grew 4.3% to nearly 25 million tons, according to “Pathway to Prosperity: The 2019-2023 Five-Year Florida Seaport Mission Plan,” prepared by the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council. The study found import tonnage of all types increased 9.4% to 38.7 million, which represented a 62% share of the state’s tonnage. The import share of containerized cargo was lower than export — 46% to 54%.
The value of containerized cargo increased 5.5% to $57.4 billion, which represented 65.7% of the state’s total value of waterborne cargo of $87.3 billion. The total value of waterborne trade was up 4.9% and represented 55.3% of the state’s total trade.
“Although the majority of the state’s waterborne cargo is not containerized, the container cargo sector has a far higher value and the rate of growth continues to outpace other cargo types,” the study states.
Liquid bulk, dry bulk and break-bulk combined to make up 77.3% of waterborne cargo types handled by Florida’s seaports, but showed a 4% increase in cargo value. Dry bulk tonnage fell 8.6%, but both liquid bulk (1.2%) and break-bulk (0.5%) showed small improvements.
The state’s seaports handled 4.6% of the country’s global waterborne import trade at $54.2 billion and 5.7% of the nation’s global waterborne export trade at $33.1 billion. The top three trading regions — South and Central America and the Caribbean, Asia and Europe — accounted for 92.6% of all Florida trade.
China and Japan remained the state’s top two trading partners for waterborne cargo by value and waterborne import trading partners. China remained atop the trade value list at $7.6 billion, a 7.7% increase, and surpassed Japan as Florida’s top import trade partner at $7.13 billion, a 10.7% increase.
The top four waterborne export trade partners — Brazil, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Columbia — remained static for the third straight year. The export trade to Brazil increased 18.9% to $3.52 billion. The state’s 10 waterborne export partners made up 55.8% of its $33.2 billion in total waterborne exports.
The top three waterborne export commodities — nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and parts thereof; vehicles, except railway or tramway, and parts; and electric machinery including sound and TV equipment — also were among the top five imports. Combined they represented $32.6 million in trade, or 37.3% of Florida’s international trade.
Vehicles remained the top waterborne import commodity at $12.74 billion, which was more than $7 billion more than the second-place commodity — apparel articles and accessories, knit or crochet ($5.03 billion) — despite a 3.3% decrease. Nuclear reactors and parts were once again the No. 1 waterborne export commodity, growing 5.1% to $6.14 billion.
“Florida is the primary waterborne trading state with Puerto Rico and U.S territories in the Caribbean,” the study states. “The domestic trade will increase as Florida seaports and partners continue to invest in seaport infrastructure and vessels.”
Florida’s waterborne trade by seaport is projected to grow to 142.4 million tons by fiscal year 2022-23, which is more than a 32 million ton jump over fiscal year 2017-18, according to the study. Tampa is predicted to handle the most tonnage in fiscal year 2022-23 at 47.1 million, followed by Everglades (30.05 million), Jacksonville (26.6 million), Miami (12 million) and Manatee (11.2 million).
The state’s 15 seaports are projected to invest $3.5 billion in infrastructure over the next five years, the study states. Everglades ($817.7 million), Miami ($789.74 million), Jacksonville ($665.6 million), Tampa ($471.6 million) and Canaveral ($406.02 million) have the largest capital programs, with planned investments for “additional cruise terminals, deepening channels to accommodate Neo- and post-Panamax cargo ships, berth rehabilitations and intermodal improvements for rail and trucks,” according to the study.
One-fourth of the projects over the next five years will be for cargo terminals, including new berths and equipment. Berth rehabilitation and repairs make up 19.8% of projects and channel and harbor deepening accounts for 16.9%, the study found.
“Florida’s seaports play a vital role in Florida’s global competitiveness,” Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson said in the study. “In fact, they support over 900,000 jobs in Florida and contribute to more than $117 billion in economic activity. In order to ensure Florida remains a leader in trade and development, we must continue investing in our ports system.”