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Port of Vancouver reports mixed traffic in 2023

Posted on March 27, 2024

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s 2023 cargo numbers reflect a mixed year for the Port of Vancouver, with growth in certain sectors and a decline in others.

Containerised exports (loaded outbound) recovered from pandemic-era obstacles, rising 7 per cent in 2023, as Canadian firms took advantage of the increasing availability of empty containers to distribute goods to markets throughout the globe.

Notably, bulk and containerised exports, vehicle imports and cruises all increased – including near-record grain exports – while container imports fell in keeping with West Coast trends.

Container volumes fell 12 per cent year-on-year (YoY), consistent with patterns witnessed along North America’s West Coast, as a slowing global economy and overstocked store stocks hurt imports (loaded inbound containers down 13 per cent).

Peter Xotta, President and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, said: “We know reliable access to international markets is vital for Canadian exports and Canadian businesses – supporting jobs, investment and economic activity from coast to coast.

“I want to acknowledge the resilience of Port of Vancouver terminal operators and supply chain partners, as they moved record volumes of trade in 2023 against a challenging backdrop to support Canadians and their jobs and businesses.”

The Port of Vancouver carried nearly as much cargo as Canada’s next five busiest ports combined in 2023, while also managing cruises and handling North America’s most diverse assortment of goods – including bulk, containers, breakbulk and vehicles.

Bulk exports climbed by 13 per cent in 2023 compared to 2022, reaching a record 91.5 million metric tonnes (MMT), with increases in grain, sulphur, coal and petroleum product volumes.

Xotta added: “While there was a softening of container volumes moving through the Port of Vancouver in 2023, Canada’s container sector remains on a long-term growth trajectory and we saw encouraging signs of recovery in Q4 as YoY volumes started to grow.

“We continue to partner with industry and government to ensure the port has the capacity needed to support Canada’s long-term trade needs, including expanding terminal capacity and investing in digital tools, collaboration and data sharing to ensure existing infrastructure is used to its maximum potential.”

In November 2023, Ashcroft Terminal Ltd. and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority signed a letter of intent concerning a long-term arrangement for the transportation of Canadian imports and exports.


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