Textile Ports Survey
With imports seemingly always in the news, what is the textile traffic through US seaports, and which ports top the list?
By Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief
To many people, those questions seem elementary, and many have an educated guess as to the answers, but in Textile World ’s search for information, the hunt for a stable and reliable data source was a challenge.
Ingrid Torlay, senior market analyst of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA), introduced TW to Leonard J. Corallo, executive vice president of Newark, N.J.-based PIERS-Port Import Export Reporting Service. Corallo agreed to collaborate with TW , and PIERS senior analyst Kim Knotts was on the case.
PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions, a division of Commonwealth Business Media Inc., analyzes more than 25,000 bills of lading every day, tracking goods as they move around the world. TW , with Knott’s assistance, was able to tap into that data, isolating and categorizing the many commodity codes that relate to textiles and that have been applied to each shipment made in 2006.
The aggregate numbers are significant. The study’s best estimate is that 2.54 million 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) — a standard quantity measure in international shipping — of total textile-related imports and exports moved through US seaports in 2006. These shipments had an estimated value of $182.3 billion.
As one might guess, apparel traffic led the way, with 48.9 percent of the total textile port TEUs and representing 62.7 percent of the total estimated value of textile traffic (See Table 1). Fabric scored second, with 23.6 percent of textile TEUs and 20.2 percent of the value, followed by home furnishings, with 12.5 percent of textile TEUs and 8.8 percent of the value.
Fiber and yarn ranked fourth, making up 9.6 percent of the textile TEUs and 4 percent of the textile estimated value. Textile machinery and parts ranked fifth, with 3.1 percent of the volume in TEUs and 2.2 percent of the value; followed closely by floor covering, with 2.3 percent of the volume and 2 percent of the value.
The leading apparel import ports in 2006 were Los Angeles, New York and Long Beach (See Table 4). Regarding apparel exports, the data point to New York, Houston, Port Everglades, and Miami as representing more than 50 percent of traffic.
The Port of Savannah led in export TEUs with more than 59,000, worth more than $1.4 billion, while Los Angeles led in value at $3.78 billion of fabric export value (See Table 5). Charleston was also a strong player in fabric imports and exports, ranking fifth in export TEUs and second in export value. Charleston ranked fourth in both imported fabric TEUs and fabric export value. Los Angeles and Long Beach led the way in fabric imports, and were second and fourth, respectively, in export TEUs.
The leading home furnishing import ports in 2006 were Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York and Charleston (See Table 6). Home furnishings exports exited the United States primarily through New York, Jacksonville, Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Port of Charleston led in import TEUs with more than 26,000, worth more than $929 million. Other leading import ports were Los Angeles, Savannah, Long Beach and New York (See Table 7). Charleston was a close second to Seattle in fiber and yarn export TEUs, but led in fiber and yarn export value, with 31.8 percent, or $967 million, of the total fiber and yarn export value of more than $3 billion dollars. Tacoma, Port Everglades, Portland, Miami, Norfolk and Savannah all played a significant role in fiber and yarn exports in 2007.
The Port of Long Beach led the way in imports with 25.9 percent of import TEUs and 20.6 percent of import value (See Table 8). Oddly, Los Angeles, ranked fourth in import TEUs, carried the highest import value at 20.7 percent or $561 million.
Leading export ports Charleston, Norfolk and New York were followed closely by Savannah, Miami, Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Port of Charleston led in both import and export TEUs (See Table 9). Savannah was second in exports and ranked fifth in imports. Other leading import ports were New York, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Norfolk and Houston. Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Jacksonville ranked strongly in exports. Interestingly, Port Everglades ranked eleventh in export TEUs, with just shy of 180 TEUs shipped of highly valued freight worth more than $20 million — more than sixth-ranked Jacksonville which exported 628 TEUs worth $14.7 million.
Is trade uniform across textile sectors? No, and the fact that the fabric and fiber and yarn categories are net exporters is heartening for US producers.
What US seaports are the big players in textile trade? You don't have to be an industry insider to know of the huge volume of imports moving through the ports of Los Angeles, New York and Long Beach, but there is some real insight in the data illustrating the importance of Charleston, Savannah, Houston, Port Everglades and Miami to both textile exports and imports (See Table 3).
And does the significance of the ports differ from sector to sector? Yes. As expected, the volume and value of apparel imported through Los Angeles, New York and Long Beach are very high. These three ports had imports of apparel in 2006 of greater than 658,000 TEUs, worth more than $64 billion. That represents 25.8 percent of the total textile TEUs all sectors, imports and exports combined and 35.2 percent of the total value. These ports, while significant in the other sectors particularly on the import side of home furnishings, fabric and textile machinery and parts don't dominate the export side with any consistency.
In the end, most analysts anticipate expansion and infrastructure development of the port system for years to come. As that development takes place and intermodal problems are solved, this snapshot may change, not just in terms of volume, but also in the growth of ports that have space to expand to support ever-increasing global trade.
Editor's Note: Port survey data were supplied by PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions. For additional information, go to www.piers.com or contact Leonard J. Corallo (973) 848-7065; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download Textile Ports Survey Tables.