ATLANTA — The Georgia Ports Authority Monday reported modest growth for 2020 despite the economic slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Port of Savannah moved more than 4.68 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) last year, up 1.8 percent over its 2019 total of 4.59 million. Total cargo crossing all docks in 2020 reached 38.4 million tons.
The growing container trade in Savannah during the last five months of the year followed five consecutive months of lower volumes.
In fact, the Port of Savannah achieved its busiest December ever, handling 447,525 TEUs, an increase of 24% over December 2019.
“Savannah’s capacity to take on additional trade as well as its diversified cargo portfolio – including ecommerce and strong export markets – helped to drive business gains,” said Griff Lynch, the ports authority’s executive director.
“Additionally, a housing boom has translated into strong demand for furniture, appliances and other home goods crossing our docks,” he said. “We remain optimistic that the conditions for growth will continue, but it is too early to know if the pace of cargo expansion will carry on as it has.”
During a time when manufacturers around the world were shuttering plants, Georgia exports held steady over the calendar year at 2.3 million TEUs. Export container volumes were led by food, forest products, cotton, clay, automotive goods and chemicals.
The Port of Savannah maintained a near-even trade balance of 51% import and 49% export, rare for the industry.
While the container trade ended 2020 in positive territory, the auto industry was harder hit, with both manufacturing and sales experiencing a difficult year related to the pandemic.
As a result, Roll-on/Roll-off cargo for 2020 at the Port of Brunswick fell by 8% to 602,748 units.
However, momentum has increased in recent months, with Ro/Ro trade between August and December up 15,000 units compared to the same period in 2019.