The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has released the 2019 year-end statistics for cargo and passengers moving through the Port of Vancouver. Overall, cargo through the port was 144 million metric tonnes for the year, down 2% from the 2018 record of 147 million metric tonnes but the second highest in port history. Sectors that experienced declines, including foreign petroleum products and domestic forest products, were offset by record growth in other sectors including potash, grain and containers.
“We saw strong trade growth through the port during the first half of 2019 that reached record levels, and a softening in the back half due to various issues affecting global markets,” said Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “Despite these challenges, and during one of the most uncertain years for global trade, we still saw the second highest volume of cargo through the Port of Vancouver to date. This speaks strongly to the diverse number of trading partners and range of cargo handled by terminals at the Port of Vancouver, which ensures the entire port remains resilient, regardless of variations in any one sector or commodity.”
Strong global demand for Canadian grain resulted in a new record of 28.3 million metric tonnes for both containerized and bulk cargo, a 3.5% increase over 2018. Increases in wheat, up by 16%, and specialty crops, up by 14%, offset the 19% decrease in canola exports, which was largely due to a 62% decrease in canola exports to China. While grain products reached record levels in 2019, this sector was the most significantly impacted by tariffs and trade challenges with China, resulting in a 37.3% decrease in grain exports to this economy. In fertilizers, potash exports increased by 2% to a record amount of 9.4 million metric tonnes.
Sectors experiencing declines included foreign petroleum products, down 42% over 2018. Year-over-year fluctuations in volumes through the port for this sector are not uncommon and were largely affected by U.S. refineries buying crude from U.S. sources, use of transportation alternatives, and product pricing. Domestic forest products declined 6% due to a reduction in local milling activities.
With a federal mandate to make sure the port is ready to handle Canada’s growth in trade, the port authority has long taken an active role, in collaboration with government and industry, to lead and deliver a number of projects aimed at fixing bottlenecks and increasing trade network capacity throughout the region.
“As Canada’s international trade continues to grow, it is our job as a Canada Port Authority, along with all those who make up the Port of Vancouver, to make sure the port is ready to handle the increasing trade through Canada’s west coast,” continued Silvester. “Against a backdrop of global change and disruption, the Port of Vancouver presents a great opportunity for our region and local communities to access jobs and internationally-sourced goods, and for businesses here to access foreign markets.”
“I’d like to thank all of our port operators and stakeholders for their commitment to contribute to a more fluid and efficient supply chain and increased capacity at the Port of Vancouver,” said Silvester. “In collaboration with port terminal operators, marine carriers, rail and trucking companies, government, and all those who make up the Port of Vancouver, we are working to ensure our port is ready and able to help Canada meet its trade goals.”