Port Manatee reported a dynamic increase in trade activity, and said exports are poised to get a further boost when Air Products begins exporting liquefied natural gas heat exchangers from the port next year.
Figures recently released by WorldCity Trade Numbers show the value of Port Manatee’s trade with the world totaled $257.57 million through the first four months of 2014 – up 17.15 percent over the comparable period in 2013. Exports increased by 25.68 percent, while imports rose 14.34 percent.
Port Manatee’s growth in commerce far outstripped that for the United States as a whole, which, for the same four months, saw total trade inch up 2.85 percent with exports rising 2.79 percent and imports gaining 2.89 percent. That means, for example, that exports from Port Manatee are growing at more than nine times the national pace.
“Port Manatee’s trade growth thus far this year is impressive indeed,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director. “Even more encouraging is the fact that Port Manatee’s export figures are poised to begin to increase exponentially next year, when shipment begins of LNG heat exchangers made at the Air Products Port Manatee facility. In fact, we expect to be the fastest-growing export port in Florida.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott was on hand in January when the world’s leader in liquefied natural gas technology and equipment dedicated its new 300,000-square-foot facility on 32 acres immediately across U.S. 41 from Port Manatee’s gates.
Port Manatee is taking numerous steps to ensure its readiness to accommodate burgeoning volumes. It has opened its 40-foot-draft Berth 14, which, combined with Berth 12, offers 1,600 feet of contiguous berthing area adjacent to its 52-acre South Port property, where 10 acres already are developed and where a roll-on/roll-off terminal and vehicle-processing facility are targeted for development under a memorandum of understanding with The Pasha Group. Most recently, port officials announced June 10 plans for an international trade hub at the Port Manatee Intermodal Center.
“With Port Manatee’s propitious position as the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanding Panama Canal and as a natural gateway for Cuba trade,” Buqueras said, “we are readying for off-the-charts growth in commerce, furthering our already impressive contribution to the Manatee County economy.”
Port Manatee is a multipurpose deepwater seaport at the entrance to Tampa Bay that serves bulk, breakbulk, container, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs regionally, without levying ad-valorem taxes.