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HomeIndustry NewsU.S. West Coast Sees Improved Performance As East Coast Faces New Challenges

U.S. West Coast Sees Improved Performance As East Coast Faces New Challenges

There may be some hope on the horizon for improved on-time performance at U.S. West Coast ports.

In its latest analytical report, Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis announced that on-time performance for ocean shipments improved by just over three percent in March, compared to the previous month. As it stands now, on-time performance is now around 14 percent for Asia-U.S. West Coast shipments. Though an improvement over the terrible recent performance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, empty sailings, and sky-rocketing demand, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made before on-time performance returns to 2020 and earlier levels.

At the same time as the new numbers for the Asia-U.S. West Coast were reported, global carrier performance increased at a much-stronger clip of nearly six percent. Global on-time performance stood at just over 40 percent in March. The global economy is continuing to recover at a fast pace, and China and other leading exporters recently reported very favorable GDP numbers for Q1 2021; that fact makes stronger global on-time performance even more impressive.

The U.S. East Coast has not fared so well, as on-time performance actually declined in March.

Tee same Sea-Intelligence report that showed U.S. West Coast growth reported that U.S. East Coast ports saw on-time performance fall around one percent in March. With that decrease, on-time performance there fell to around 12 percent, a terrible number during this critical trade period. The 12 percent number was actually the worst on record.

Of course, the terrible U.S. East Coast numbers come at a time of crucial developments there – both positive and negative. We recently reported on the opening of a new terminal at the Port of Charleston, which is expected to ease some congestion there over the longer-term. That will certainly help overall performance, as that port is one of the U.S. East Coast’s busiest. Additionally, some blame for the reduced on-time performance on the U.S. East Coast is likely on the Suez Canal crisis, which blocked that waterway for nearly a full week back at the end of March and delayed vessels arriving on the U.S. East Coast.

One thing is for sure: there’s a long way to go to return to pre-pandemic performance.

While recent events may have affected short-term on-time performance, there’s no denying that the shipping industry as a whole as a long way to go before things go back to “normal.” Global GDP growth, while strong given the situation, has a lot of room to recover to pre-pandemic growth. Container shortages and empty sailings continue to plague global shipping, as carriers eye profitability over performance.

Even with the recent growth of on-time performance on the U.S. West Coast, overall performance is still down significantly from 2020 levels and the pre-COVID era. In 2020, on-time performance was sometimes as high as 75 percent, a respectable number that everyone can live with. Only time will tell how long it takes to return there.

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