The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reported that its market share edged slightly higher last year, chalking up a 1.2 percent gain when compared with other eastern U.S. ports, outpacing its fiercest competitor Halifax, whose share rose only eight-tenths of a percentage point.
Some $82 billion of goods flowed through the New York Harbor terminals in 2000, an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to a statement by New York Gov. George Pataki. Acting New Jersey Gov. Donald DiFrancesco estimated the port supported more than 166,000 jobs and contributed $20 billion to the regional economy.
The governors of New York and New Jersey, who share joint control of the Port Authority, have approved a five-year, $1.8 billion capital program to help make New York Harbor more competitive, by strengthening wharves and expanding container operations. However, port officials said that a $3.7 billion program that includes dredging harbors to 50 feet so that they can handle larger ships will not begin for three years and will take longer to complete.
The bi-state agency said New York harbor dominated North Atlantic ports in 2000 with 51.7 percent of the market when measured in 20-foot equivalent units, a standard measure of containers which once ran around 20 feet, but now can measure up to 45 feet.
Halifax, Nova Scotia's market share edged 0.8 percent higher to 10.6 percent, the Port Authority said. Norfolk, Va.'s market share edged down 0.5 percent to 23.1 percent, while Baltimore dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.3 percent, they said. Philadelphia fared worse, slipping six-tenths of a percentage point to 6.5 percent while Boston's market share fell three-tenths of a percent to 1.7 percent, the authority added.
But the Port Authority's rate of growth trailed badly behind West Coast ports
, which in recent years have benefited from a booming Pacific trade. The Los Angeles port achieved a 27.5 percent gain in 20-foot equivalent units, and Long Beach grew by 4.4 percent, according to Matt Plezia, a trade analyst for the Long Beach port.
A strong U.S. dollar over the past two years also hurt New York Harbor's automobile shipments, which fell 9.76 percent last year to 161,000 metric tons. That was a steep drop from 1998's total of 302,000 metric tons.
While imports of cars climbed more than 12 percent in 2000, exports fell more than 25 percent. The total amount of general cargo that was shipped grew 12 percent to 18.75 million metric tons, exceeding forecasts for an estimated 4.2 percent increase, port officials said.
Bulk cargo exports fell more than 17 percent in 2000, but the drop stemmed mainly from a decline of grain shipments out of Albany, exports that the U.S. government includes in the Port Authority's district, the officials noted.
Approximately 63.8 million metric tons of bulk and general goods were shipped in 2000, a 9.7 percent increase. - (Reuters)