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Port fact you may not know: Seattle-Tacoma together are the third largest container gateway

New Alliances=New Business. Seattle and Tacoma cement alliances

The commissioners of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have given the final OK needed to launch an alliance aimed at helping the former rivals stave off growing competition, and regain market share.

Facing increased competition from Port Metro Vancouver and Prince Rupert, the Northwest Seaport Alliance will allow Seattle and Tacoma to work together as the third-largest U.S. container gateway.

In the first quarter of 2015, the Pacific Northwest ports saw their market share drop 3 percentage points despite a 21 percent surge in cargo at Seattle and Tacoma in March.The alliance will enable the ports to plan the best use of their waterfront property by allowing the ports to recalibrate their dockside operations to better fit their needs in the new arrangement, with an eye toward efficiently handling mega-ships. In addition to improving operational efficiency, the alliance could thwart container lines’ efforts to play the ports off another to negotiate lower rates.

The Canadian counterparts of Vancouver and Prince Rupert increased their market share 1 and 3 percentage points, respectively, according to port-published data analyzed by JOC.com. The Seaport Alliance saw its share of total PNW container volumes fall from 44 to 41 while Vancouver saw its share rise from 46 to 47 percent and Prince Rupert saw its share increase from 9 to 12 percent.

“Creating the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the third largest cargo gateway in North America, is truly historic and signals a new era of cooperation between our ports,” Port of Seattle commission co-president Courtney Gregoire said in a statement “Combining our strong cargo terminal operations will make our region more competitive in the global economy.”

The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents shipping interests and terminal operators, also greeted the move warmly.

“Working as a team, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma will be stronger and much better positioned to make the smart investments that are necessary to keep the ports competitive,” said Captain Mike Moore, vice president of the Pacific Maritime Shipping Association.

Source: Dustin Braden at dustin.braden@ihs.com; joc.com

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