The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), which owns and operates the Port of Charleston and inland ports in Greer, Georgetown, and Dillon, S.C., said yesterday that the port set an all-time record in 2017 by handling 2.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). The port bettered the previous record set in 2016 of 2 million TEUs.
The port moved 182,884 TEUs last month, an increase of 11.2 percent over December 2016 and the highest December TEU totals in SCPA history.
"Global container trade growth was the strongest it has been since 2010, mirroring surprising strength in the global economy," said SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome in a statement. "We expect to see continued strength, albeit slightly more modest, into 2018, with growth in the emerging market economies as a key factor in sustaining this positive outlook."
Inland Port Greer, located about 212 miles northwest of Charleston, handled 7,646 rail "lifts" in December, pushing the facility's volumes to a new calendar-year record of 124,817 lifts. A lift is defined as a movement of a container on or off a railcar. Greer bettered its volume record, also set in 2016, by 20.4 percent. Greer has built a strong niche handling traffic for German automaker BMW North America's manufacturing facility in Spartanburg.
Separately, the Port of Savannah, Ga., located 107 miles south of Charleston, said yesterday it was named by the U.S. Agriculture Department to become an entry port for Chilean blueberries. Until now, the commodity could enter the U.S. only through south Florida, the Philadelphia/New York area, and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.
The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), which owns and operates Savannah, said the new designation means that the product will arrive in major southeast markets like Atlanta faster and more cheaply than before. Griff Lynch, GPA's executive director, said in a statement that the total transit time to markets like Atlanta will be reduced by 3 to 7 days.
GPA said it is working with the USDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to increase the number of commodities and countries using Savannah as a port of entry. Brain Kastick, CEO of PortFresh, a company that currently handles Chilean blueberry imports in the Savannah area, said importers could save as much as $1,700 per truck in transport costs by using the port to distribute to nearby markets rather than using entry ports that are farther away.