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The Port of Tacoma, Wash., in July posted a 6 percent year-over-year gain in container volume, its fifth consecutive monthly increase.The strong volume signaled the start of the traditional peak shipping season, as retailers prepare for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons, port officials said in a press release. Container volume has been unusually robust over the past few months as retailers built inventory ahead of the June 30 expiration of the West Coast longshoremen's contract, they said.Also in July, grain exports soared 75 percent to 2,398,775 short tons as volume returned to normal following last year’s historic lows; breakbulk cargo rose 8 percent to 133,044 short tons; and log exports tumbled 25 percent to 242,266 short tons, reflecting decreased demand from China, port officials said.Through 2014's first seven months, the port handled 1,167,123 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), up 8 percent. Imports climbed 10 percent to 441,113 TEUs, exports rose 8 percent to 319,221 TEUs and domestic volume grew 2 percent to 264,990 TEUs.Meanwhile, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) reported 153,916 TEUs for July, up 13 percent year over year. Pier container volume climbed nearly 14 percent.For fiscal-year 2014, which ended June 30, the authority reported 1.7 million TEUs, up 8 percent compared with FY2013."The last quarter of the fiscal year was the strongest the SCPA has seen in seven years," said SCPA President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Newsome in a press release.
The authority's rail drayage program noted expanded participation by all major shipping lines in FY2014, "demonstrating Charleston's capabilities as a rail-competitive port," SCPA officials said. Rail drayage volume jumped 136 percent.