Cargo volumes for the Port of Halifax declined by 6.2 per cent in 2009 compared to the previous year.
Cargo volumes for the Port of Halifax declined by 6.2 per cent in 2009 compared to the previous year, according to recently released figures. Bulk cargo, such as grain and oil products, which make up nearly two thirds of the port"s business by tonnage, fell by 1.6 per cent.
Containerized cargo, which accounts for about a third of the port"s business by tonnage, but is largely considered the economic driver, dropped by 11 per cent.
Roll-on/roll-off cargo, made up entirely of vehicles, fell by 16.6 per cent. Breakbulk cargo, like windmills and locomotives, tumbled by a whopping 35.7 per cent. Those last two make up just three per cent and two per cent of the port"s business respectively.
Last year"s overall drop in cargo, attributed to the recession that gripped the global economy in late 2008, was seen in ports around North America, said Michele Peveril, a spokeswoman for the Halifax Port Authority.
?If consumers aren"t demanding import product to sit on Wal-Mart shelves, then we"re not handling them,? she said.
In the first six years of the past decade ports including Halifax were handling record cargo volumes, said Ms. Peveril, noting it"s expected to take another five years for those to return.
?There are a lot of variables there that we have to watch carefully, as do other ports, because ? some economists will say U.S. consumers will never spend as much as they did in the heyday.?
But cargo volumes in Halifax did increase somewhat as last year progressed. In the second half of 2009, containerized cargo was up 4.2 per cent when compared to the second half of 2008. Containerized cargo volumes in the second half of the year increased by nearly 26 per cent when compared to the first six months of 2009.
?There are some indications that port volumes are improving,? Ms. Peveril. ?So that"s positive. But we recognize that the recovery will be prolonged.?