When it comes to tonnage and trade, Port Everglades is the leader in South Florida. One of the three primary conduits of South Florida’s import-export trade, Port Everglades also recently topped a milestone in TEUs in its last fiscal year, surpassing 1 million “20-foot-equivalent” units, the standard measure for container trade that has reshaped global trade over the last several decades.
For 2014, Port Everglades’ total tonnage increased 6.46 percent, the only one of the top three — PortMiami and Miami International Airport are the other two — to register an overall increase. I wrote about MIA’s trade in tonnage terms last week and will cover PortMiami’s next week.
Port Everglades is one of the nation’s leading ports both by dollar value, where it ranks No. 31 among the nation’s roughly 450 airports, seaports and border crossings, and by tonnage, where it ranks 32. PortMiami ranks No. 37 in dollar terms and 44 in tonnage. MIA ranks No. 17 in value and No. 91 in tonnage, a spread that is not uncommon with airports because flying heavy things like cement and cars is impractical.
At Port Everglades in 2014, export tonnage fell 4.95 percent while import tonnage increased 10.87 percent.
One product dominates both the value and tonnage statistics at Port Everglades: Gasoline and related fuels, some of which is stored in large cylindrical containers at the Broward County port. In 2014, Port Everglades imported 3.76 million metric tons of gasoline, almost one-half of the total import tonnage for the seaport. Those imports increased 5.10 percent in weight in 2014.
How outsized a role does gasoline play? The weight of the next 25 imports into Port Everglades — 14 of them are shown in the accompanying chart — didn’t equal the tonnage of gasoline imports into the port last year.
Port Everglades-imported gasoline fuels vehicles throughout South Florida and into Central Florida. The nearest consequential port for gasoline imports is Port Canaveral, which handled 1.35 million metric tons in 2014, or a little more than a third as much.
Port Everglades ranked No. 6 in the nation for fuel imports in 2014, up one from the previous year when it trailed Baton Rouge. Population has, of course, a fair amount to do with the ranking as do energy-related industry. Ahead of Port Everglades are the Port of Newark, the Port of New Orleans, the Port of Houston, the Port of Boston and the Port of Corpus Christi.
Where that fuel comes from might hold a surprise or two. While Venezuela is the chief source — and Port Everglades’ overall No. 1 ranked trade partner by value and tonnage — the No. 2 source for gasoline is South Korea and No. 3 is India. The latter two markets are part of the complex energy-trading picture as opposed to refiners or oil sources.
TOP TRADE PARTNERS
By nation, Port Everglades’ top five trade partners are Venezuela, South Korea, India — the three gasoline importers — followed by Honduras, dominated by T-shirts and sweaters, and Guatemala, dominated by bananas.
The No. 2 import, cement, is of course vital to the construction industry. Those imports jumped 241.54 percent in tonnage in 2014 but remain well below the totals for the years 2004 through 2007. The 2004 total was 2.33 million tons; a decade later, in 2014, the total was 503,844 tons.
Ranked No. 11 among the nation’s seaports for this import in 2013, it advanced to No. five in 2014.
The next two imports are important not only to South Florida but the nation: melons and bananas, both of which grew in tonnage last year. Port Everglades ranked No. 1 among the nation’s seaports for melons and No. 6 for bananas in 2014.
On the export side — Port Everglades run a tonnage deficit with 75.10 percent of all tonnage an import — the top rank is held by cement, which fell 37.86 percent to 169.44 million tons, followed by uncoated paper, up 8.25 percent to 149.22 million tons and cotton, which increased 32.87 percent to 146.96 million tons. Cotton is, of course, important to the apparel industry in Honduras as well as elsewhere in Central America and the Caribbean.
Honduras is, in fact, Port Everglades’ top export trade partner, with tonnage increasing 5.33 percent to 243.10 million tons. The Dominican Republic follows with a 27.93 percent increase to 211.92 million metric tons. Rounding out the top five are the Bahamas, Venezuela and Panama.
Ken Roberts is the founder and president of WorldCity, a Coral Gables-based company. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Port Everglades’ top imports in 2014, in metric tons
fresh or dried
Iron and steel
bars and rods
tops, knit or
vest, knit or
and other fruit
Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data