Surge in shipping has New York hot on L.A.'s heels

The New York metropolitan area is within "striking distance" of overtaking Los Angeles as the largest trade region in the nation, according to a new report.

New York is the nation's third-busiest port, right behind L.A. and neighboring Long Beach. But the region is growing at a faster pace than its West Coast rivals. Two-way trade through New York's seaports and airports increased by 18% in 2011 over the prior year, to $418.3 billion, while L.A.'s traffic grew by 12%, the Baruch College's Weissman Center for International Business reported. Chinese imports grew at a faster rate for New York than for L.A., accounting for much of the discrepancy.

The Port Authority's own numbers back up that optimism. June in particular was a good month for the region, as the 276,225 container "lifts"—the number of times a crane lifted a container off a ship—made it the second-best June on record. Rail traffic and truck traffic out of the ports were both up over last year, by 9.9% and 28.9%, respectively.

"We have this huge consumer market here," said Joseph Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association. "There are 20 million people who live right around these ports. And our port has access—about one day's drive—to about 100 million people. I think the chances of sustained and continued growth are very good for us."

The Port Authority operates four of the region's major seaports: Port Jersey Marine Terminal in Bayonne and Jersey City; Brooklyn Port Authority Marine Terminal, comprising the Brooklyn Piers and Red Hook Container Terminal; Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; and Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal. It also oversees the region's major airports, which, according to Mr. Spruck, are also seeing a spike in commerce.


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