Florida ports are poised to accept cargo ships languishing in ports up and down the East Coast and beyond, if shippers are willing to reroute them, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Beginning in September, a shortage of cargo handlers and truck drivers has been behind a snarl of cargo ships at American ports including those in Savannah, Ga., Charlotte, NC, and Charleston, SC. The result has been an increasing dearth of goods on store shelves and a break in the national supply chain that is driving high food and fuel prices and threatens to cripple the country’s holiday economy.
“We’re able to accommodate these ships without backups – our seaports are used to moving cargo for American families, farmers, and businesses,” DeSantis said during a press conference on Oct. 19 at JAXPORT in Jacksonville. “Our seaports are used to operating around the clock, and JAXPORT and some of the other ports are offering incentive packages to businesses that want to move their cargo through these ports – This will make a huge difference.”
It’s already making a difference, DeSantis said. One European shipping container company announced that it will re-route its vessel service to JAXPORT. The move will bring an estimated 1,000 more containers a week to JAXPORT every week, he said.
Meanwhile, Port Everglades recently announced that the MSE Stella brought nearly 7,000 containers to that port earlier this month and that the carrier’s Susanna container ship brought another 9,200 containers to the port from India via the Suez Canal on Oct. 23.
At the same time, many of the state’s ports are offering incentives aimed at encouraging shippers to re-route their cargo containers here.
“Incentives are available on a per-container rate for new ocean carrier services calling JAXPORT,” said Chelsea Kavanagh, public information officer (PIO) for the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT). “The rate is negotiable and varies depending on a variety of factors related to the specifics of the service.”
In all, Florida has 15 water ports including Tampa, Orlando, Port Canaveral, Miami, and Key West. According to Florida Seaport Fast Face from to flaports.org, in 2018 the total value of waterborne cargo was $87.3 billion representing 55.6 percent of the state’s total international trade.