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Rail News: Intermodal

FMC study: Rail rate disparities one reason cargo is shifting from U.S. ports to Canadian and Mexican ports


The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) recently released a study on the impacts of a U.S. harbor maintenance tax, federal policies and other factors on cargo shifts from U.S. ports to Canadian and Mexican ports.

The "Study of U.S. Inland Containerized Cargo Moving Through Canadian and Mexican Seaports" examined the competitiveness of North American ports; reviewed the history and theories of cargo diversion and the harbor tax; analyzed ocean freight rates, transit times and rail charges; and identified other potential relevant factors influencing cargo movements. 

The study determined that numerous factors account for why shippers elect to use other ports, including overall shipment savings, risk mitigation through port diversification, perceived transit-time benefits, avoidance of the harbor tax and rail rate disparities.

The analysis confirms previous estimates that a significant amount of containerized imports moving through West Coast ports in Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., might be vulnerable to Canadian routing, FMC officials said in a prepared statement.

“This study provides facts U.S. policymakers can rely upon as they make the important choices affecting this country’s ability to compete in a global transportation marketplace,” said FMC Chairman Richard Lidinsky Jr.

The study was prompted by requests from members of Congress, who requested that the FMC seek input on cargo diversion factors.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/6/2012