Port cargo tonnage grows for two quarters in 1991 Increase for two consecutive quarters hadn't happened for two years. Officials pleased.

August 07, 1991|By Michelle Singletary | Michelle Singletary,Evening Sun Staff

For the first time in two years, the Port of Baltimore's public terminals have registered two consecutive quarters of growth.

In the second quarter of this year, cargo grew by 4.1 percent to 1.4 million tons, according to figures released yesterday by the Maryland Port Commission, the policy-setting board that oversees the Maryland Port Administration.

During the first quarter of 1991, general cargo tonnage at the port increased 6.5 percent.

General cargo -- goods not handled in bulk -- includes autos, steel and consumer merchandise carried in standardized shipping containers. It is highly sought by ports because of the waterfront jobs that it creates.

For the first six months of the year, cargo tonnage increased 5.2 percent. The state's piers handled 2.7 million tons compared xTC with 2.6 million tons of general cargo during the first half of 1991.

For all of last year, state-owned terminals handled 5.1 million tons of general cargo compared with 5.8 million in 1989.

The last time the port had two consecutive quarters of growth was in 1988 when 1.4 million tons of cargo were handled during the fourth quarter, followed by 1.5 million tons in the first quarter of 1989.

The majority of the growth in the second quarter was attributed to break-bulk cargo, a category that includes steel, machinery and lumber. Steel grew by 46.4 percent to 89,696 tons and other break-bulk cargo, by 30.2 percent to 224,116 tons.

Port officials were pleased with the signs of recovery at the port.

"We see some prospects for additional growth," said Bruce E. Cashon, the port's marketing director.

In fact, Cashon said, officials hope a trial shipment of 2,000 tons of steel by a Far East trading company will result in its using Baltimore on a permanent basis.

Adrian Teel, on the job just five weeks as Baltimore's port director, said the growth of general cargo tonnage is a result of improved marketing tactics.

"We are very positive about this," Teel said yesterday. "We have shown target marketing efforts on the part of the MPA and CSX [Transportation Inc.] and others have been successful." Cashon said officials have been able to persuade the Arabian American Oil Co. in Saudi Arabia to ship 1,400 mobile homes through the state's North Locust Point marine terminal. The homes are bound for Saudi Arabia. If this arrangement works out well, there is potential for future contracts, he said.

Exports at the port are up 26 percent for the second quarter and

23.2 percent for the first half of the year. Cashon said exports are up primarily because of the weakness of the dollar.

But all the news at the port isn't good.

Imports are down by 14.3 percent to 622,513 tons for the second quarter compared with the same quarter in 1990. For the first six months of 1991, imports were down 10 percent to 1.3 million tons.

The handling of lumber at all the state-owned marine terminals dropped 60 percent to 4,364 tons. Container cargo dropped 1.5 percent to 1 million tons, and autos fell nearly 5 percent to 71,372 tons.

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