The maritime Port of Baltimore was the nation’s eighth busiest waterborne freight gateway for international trade by value of shipments in 2003. It ranked eighteenth overall among all air, land, and water gateways with nearly $26 billion of international freight moving through it. This amount of trade represents nearly 3 percent of the value of U.S. international waterborne freight movements and 1 percent of the total value of U.S. international trade by all modes of transportation.
By weight, Baltimore ranks fourteenth among all waterborne gateways in the country. Some 24 million tons of international trade moved through the port in 2003—19 million tons of imports and 5 million tons of exports. This accounted for nearly 2 percent of total U.S. waterborne freight tonnage.
The Port of Baltimore handled containers amounting to 0.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2003. There were over 1,600 vessel calls made at the port, of which 21 percent were container ships, and 19 percent were dry-bulk ships.1
Canada is the leading country for both imports and exports, accounting for over 18 percent of tonnage moving through the Port of Baltimore. The top-5 origin countries for imports account for 50 percent of import tonnage while the top-5 export destinations account for 55 percent of export tonnage.
Between 1999 and 2003, the value of trade through the Port of Baltimore increased by 34 percent—44 percent for imports and 7 percent for exports. During the same period, the tonnage of merchandise trade moved through the port increased by 4 percent—imports increased by 22 percent while exports decreased by 33 percent.
The major commodities moving through the Port of Baltimore include automobiles, steel, forest products, lumber, paper and paper products, wood pulp, and breakbulk.2 It is one of the major ports on the East coast specializing in Roll-on/Roll-off cargo like automobiles, and earth-moving and large farm machinery.
1 Dry-bulk ships carry homogeneous dry cargoes such as grain, coal, steel, and iron ore.
2 Commodities information available at http://www.mpa.state.md.us/info/index.htm as of Nov. 16, 2004.