Port of Norfolk, Virginia-Water Gateway

Port of Norfolk, Virginia-Water Gateway

The maritime Port of Norfolk was the nation's seventh busiest waterborne freight gateway for international trade by value of shipments in 2008. It ranked 14th among all land, water, and air gateways, handling $54 billion of international freight. In 2008, the amount of trade handled at Norfolk represented more than 3 percent of the value of U.S. international waterborne freight shipments, accounting for 5 percent of U.S. waterborne exports and 3 percent of imports (table 1). The port handled about 1.6 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in 2008, accounting for 6 percent of total U.S. containerized freight (table 1).

Norfolk ranked 10th by weight among all U.S. international water ports in 2008. More than 39 million tons of international merchandise trade-about 29 million tons of exports and 10 million tons of imports-moved through its facilities (table 1). The Port of Norfolk was one of the few leading U.S. maritime ports where exports exceeded imports by weight. But by value, imports still accounted for a bigger share of the freight-56 percent in 2008. As a result, the value per ton of merchandise exports through the port was less than the value per ton of imports.

By weight of the shipments, China was the top origin country for imports in 2007, followed by Columbia and Brazil. Italy was the leading destination for exports, followed by Belgium and Brazil (table 2).1 The Port of Bremerhaven, Germany, was the largest origin point for imports, and the Port of Antwerp, Belgium, was the major destination for exports (table 3).

More than 1,300 vessel calls were made at the port in 2007. Of these, 74 percent were container ships and 16 percent were dry-bulk ships.2 The total deadweight tonnage of all the port calls was nearly 69 million tons (table 4).

The major commodities imported through the Port of Norfolk included mineral fuel and oil; machinery; salt, sulfur, earth, and stone; fertilizers; and furniture and bedding. The major commodities exported included mineral fuel and oil, cereals, fertilizers, food waste, animal feed, and wood pulp.3

1 Data for 2008 are not available for weight and vessels calls. Data in tables 2, 3, and 4 are from 2007.

2 Dry-bulk ships carry homogeneous dry cargoes, such as grain, coal, steel, and iron ore.

3 Port of Virginia website, www.portofvirginia.com/development/port-stats.aspx as of Aug. 10, 2009.