The Port of Vancouver handled a record amount of cargo in volumes and containers during the first half of 2019 as Canada’s largest maritime trade hub showed resilience but not immunity to economic headwinds.
Cargo volumes increased by 0.5 percent to 72.5 million metric tons compared to the first half of 2018. The number of containers rose by 3.5 percent to 1.7 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs), driven by stronger export traffic.
“While Canada is certainly not exempt from the challenges impacting global trade, the diverse range of trading partners and cargo handled through the Port of Vancouver ensures the entire port remains resilient, despite variations in any one sector or commodity,” Robin Silvester, CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, said in a statement on August 15.
Export tonnage rose 1.3 percent to nearly 60 million metric tons, while imports declined by 2.8 percent to 14.5 million metric tons.
The port’s mid-year report painted a mixed picture:
- Dry bulk increased by 2.9 percent to nearly 44 million metric tons, driven by an 8.5 percent increase in grain to a record 14.8 million metric tons.
- Grain volumes set a record 14.8 million metric tons, up 8.5 percent, as exports in wheat and other crops offset a plunge in canola – largely a retaliatory measure by China.
- Breakbulk decreased by 1.1 percent to 8.9 million metric tons as wood pulp dropped by 3.3 percent.
- Bulk liquid dropped 26.2 percent on a 33.3 percent decrease in petroleum.
- Autos also dropped by 4 percent on weaker demand within Canada;
The port said that the record volumes underscore the need for expansion and improvements, particularly its proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project.
“As Canada’s international trade continues to grow, it is our job as a Canada Port Authority to make sure the port is ready to handle the increasing trade volumes through Canada’s west coast,” Silvester said.
In July, the Canadian government announced more than C$100 million in funding to improve the flow of goods in and out of the port.