The maritime Port of Norfolk was the nation’s sixth busiest waterborne freight gateway for international trade by value of shipments in 2003. It ranked fifteenth overall among all land, water, and air gateways with $29 billion of international freight moving through it. This amount of trade represents nearly 4 percent of the value of U.S. international waterborne freight shipments and 2 percent of the total value of U.S. international merchandise trade by all modes of transportation.
In 2003, over 24 million tons of international merchandise trade moved through the Port of Norfolk. This included 15 million tons of exports and 9 million tons of imports. Thus, among the leading U.S. maritime ports by weight, the Port of Norfolk is one of the few where, by tonnage, exports are greater than imports. But by value of imports and exports, the imports still accounted for the bigger share of the trade. Thus, the value per ton of merchandise goods exported through the Port of Norfolk is less than the value per ton of goods imported.
The Port of Norfolk handled over 1 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2003. There were over 700 vessel calls made at the port, of which 73 percent were container ships and 13 percent were dry-bulk ships.1 The total deadweight tonnage of all the port calls was nearly 35,000 tons.
Between 1999 and 2003, the total value of international merchandise trade through the Port of Norfolk increased by over 19 percent—the imports increased by 39 percent while the exports declined by 3 percent. During the same period, the overall tonnage declined by 21 percent—exports declined by 32 percent while imports increased by 9 percent.
Canada is the top origin country for imports through the Port of Norfolk, followed by Germany and Brazil, while Belgium is the leading destination for exports followed by Italy and Brazil. The top-5 origin countries for imports and destination countries for exports accounted for 47 percent of the total tonnage moving through the port in 2003.
The major commodities imported through the Port of Norfolk include crude oil; salt, sulfur, earth, and stone; machinery; wood; and fertilizers. The major commodities exported include coal; wood pulp; wood; grains, seeds and fruit; and paper and paperboard.2
1 Dry-bulk ships carry homogeneous dry cargoes such as grain, coal, steel, and iron ore.
2 Commodities information available at http://www.vaports.com/main.htm as of Nov. 16, 2004.