"Our total volume of 2.27 million tons puts December among the top 10 months on record and the highest-performing December ever," said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz in a prepared statement.
Container tonnage rose 4.2 percent in December to 1.76 million tons while container throughput increased 2.2 percent to 219,128 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) at the ports in Brunswick and Savannah.
Meanwhile, the Port of Tacoma, Wash., marked "an unusually robust month" for container volumes in December, according to a press release. The port handled 176,658 TEUs, a 45 percent increase compared with December 2011.
"The strong December volumes can be attributed in part to cargo diverted from southern California ports during the eight-day labor strike in late November and early December," port officials said. "Shippers also appear to be diverting some cargo to West Coast ports as uncertainty continues regarding labor negotiations on the East and Gulf coasts."
For all of 2012, double-digit growth in both imports and exports propelled a 16 percent gain in container volume versus 2011 to 1.7 million TEUs — the best annual mark since 2008, port officials said.
Containerized imports climbed more than 27 percent to 611,085 TEUs, bolstered by strong demand for auto parts, furniture, toys and sporting goods, they said. Agricultural products and bulk commodities helped boost export container volume by about 22 percent to 457,078 TEUs.
Also in 2012, intermodal lifts jumped 30 percent, reflecting the port's growing container volumes, and total tonnage rose about 4 percent to nearly 18 million tons.
In Oregon, the Port of Portland capped off 2012 by landing another 25-year lease from longtime tenant and grain exporter Columbia Grain Inc., which will continue to generate export volumes at Terminal 5, port officials said in a press release.
"The Port, BNSF Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and Columbia Grain have and will make significant investments in rail and facility expansion to ensure that Terminal 5 remains competitive in the future," said Columbia Grain Chief Executive Officer Tom Hammond.
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