Port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-Water Gateway

Port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-Water Gateway

The maritime Port of Philadelphia was the nation's 10th busiest maritime freight gateway for international maritime trade by value of shipments in 2008. It ranked 20th among all land, water, and air gateways, handling more than $43 billion of international freight. In 2008, the merchandise trade handled at Philadelphia represented about 3 percent of the value of U.S. international waterborne freight shipments, accounting for 1 percent of U.S. waterborne exports and 3 percent of imports (table 1).

By weight, Philadelphia ranked seventh among all U.S. water ports in 2008. More than 54 million tons of international trade-51 million tons of imports and 3 million tons of exports-moved through the port, accounting for nearly 4 percent of the total U.S. waterborne freight tonnage. The port handled more than 218,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of containerized freight in 2008 (table 1).

The Port of Philadelphia is a major gateway for imports from African countries. By weight, Nigeria was the top origin country for imports in 2007, followed by Cameroon and Turkey.1 Australia was the major destination for exports, followed by Canada and Turkey (table 2). All three of the port's top origin points for imports were ports in the oil-rich country of Nigeria. The top destination points for exports were Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, and Montreal, Canada (table 3).

Tankers accounted for 52 percent of the more than 3,100 vessel calls made at the Port of Philadelphia in 2007. Dry-bulk ships and general cargo vessels together made 25 percent of the vessel calls, and containerships made 16 percent (table 4).2

By weight, the major commodities exported through the Port of Philadelphia included refined petroleum products, iron and steel scrap and waste, paper, and meat. Major imported commodities included crude petroleum, refined petroleum products, meat, fruit, wine, beverage, and paper products. The top containerized exports were automobiles and motor vehicle parts, paper products, meat, plastic products, and medical equipment. The top containerized imports were meat, fruit, wine, and paper products. Philadelphia is one of the major ports on the East Coast specializing in breakbulk cargo, such as cocoa beans, dairy products, seeds and bulbs, and general cargo.

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.