General cargo handled at state-owned terminals rose more than 3 percent during the first half, marking the fourth consecutive quarterly increase after a half-dozen years of decline.
General cargo moving across state-owned piers rose to 2.65 million tons during the first six months of the year, a 3.13 percent increase over the 2.57 million tons during the same period a year ago, according to the Maryland Port Administration.
James Gring, a spokesman for the MPA, said yesterday that the growth was driven by several major shipping lines expanding service through Baltimore since the first of the year.
In addition, Mr. Gring noted that existing lines were also getting more business.
The port administration said imports increased almost 10 percent, to 1.40 million tons, from 1.28 million tons during the first half of 1992.
Exports, however, dropped 3.6 percent during the first first half, from 1.29 million tons to 1.25 million tons.
Auto shipments fell 13 percent, reflecting a decline in car imports due to a drop in consumer demand, as well as the increase in foreign auto companies opening manufacturing plants in the U.S.
Container cargo posted a 3.3 percent gain, to slightly more than 2 million tons. Container business was helped by increases in wood pulp, farm and construction equipment shipments, Mr. Gring said. Steel shipments were up nearly 13 percent.
"We have been saying for the last two years that the port of Baltimore
is making a turnaround," state Transportation Secretary, O. James Lighthizer, said in a prepared statement.
"The proof is in the statistics."
MPA officials also announced the largest single automobile shipment in the history of the port took place over the weekend.
Chrysler Corp., the port's largest auto exporter, shipped 3,614 vehicles to China.
The shipment is part of a purchase of 4,600 minivans and Plymouth Sundance models sold to a Chinese government delegation that represents several Chinese companies.