Menu Home

Maritime Cargo Comings and Goings 2022

April 12, 2023

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA or the alliance) is one of the top maritime ports in North America. Cargo operations through our terminals have a significant impact on international trade and the local economy and provide jobs and revenue to Washington state — a state where 40% of jobs are tied to trade. 

The NWSA produces an annual cargo trade report that highlights trade activity, including country, port, and commodity breakdowns, as well as profiles on the top ten trading partners by total TEUs. 

In 2022, the top trading partners were China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and India. Top ten trading partners mirror 2021, with Vietnam surpassing South Korea in ranking.

Here is a summary of NWSA volumes: 



The NWSA handled 3.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2022, down 9.4% from 2021’s 3.7 million TEUs. Imports were impacted by high retail inventories, while exports were impacted by the strong dollar, ongoing tariffs in key markets, and lower vessel capacity from sailings that were cancelled by carriers (called blank sailings).

Global reach 

The NWSA has regular weekly services with key markets in Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and Oceania, and the products from our region reach markets all over the world. Asia and Pacific make up most of the volume via our gateway, accounting for 95.4% of trade by TEUs.


Strong trade relationships 

Washington state is one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation and has established strong trade relationships with many other countries. These top five countries import and export valuable merchandise and commodities through the NWSA gateway. 

Top five import trading partners by TEUs 

China — 689,761 TEUS 
Vietnam — 170,058 TEUs 
Japan — 69,436 TEUs 
South Korea — 65,940 TEUs (+1)
Taiwan — 59,379 TEUs (-1)

Fun Fact: In 2017, Vietnam was the fifth largest source of goods to our region through the NWSA.

Top five export trading partners by TEUs 

Japan — 145,073 TEUs 
China — 95,234 TEUs 
South Korea — 94,837 TEUs 
Taiwan — 36,331 TEUs 
Malaysia — 20,913 TEUs 

Fun Fact: Malaysia replaced Indonesia to become a top five export trading partner. 

In 2021, China accounted for 44.6% of our TEU volumes. In 2022, the number dropped to 43.8%. Vietnam’s market share grew from 7.9% in 2021 to 10.4% in 2022. 

Reaching the world  

The following global ports send and receive the highest volume of cargo handled by NWSA.


Origin ports by TEUs 

Yantian, China — 184,334 TEUs 
Shanghai, China — 164,412 TEUs 
Ningbo, China — 103,818 TEUs 
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — 94,249 TEUs 
Qingdao, China — 84,820 TEUs 

Fun Fact: Four of the top five origin ports are in China. 

Destination ports by TEUs 

Tokyo, Japan — 53,894 TEUs 
Gwangyang, South Korea — 43,669 TEUs 
Busan, South Korea — 39,514 TEUs 
Kaohsiung, Taiwan — 31,833 TEUs 
Qingdao, China — 21,750 TEUs

Fun Fact: Two of the top five destination ports are in South Korea. 

Top five commodities 

Here are the types of commodities moved through NWSA container terminals in 2022. 


Washington agriculture

As has been noted in past posts, agricultural products are a huge part of our export volumes. The Port of Seattle recognizes that our state would never be an agricultural leader without the contributions of migrant farmworkers and partners. 

Meet some of those leaders in the film Trabajo:On Their Shoulders.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture produces graphics that tell the story well. 


Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Washington state is a top producer for many agricultural commodities:


Source: Washington State Department of Agriculture

Export gateway of choice

The NWSA is the leading U.S. export gateway for Hay and Forage, Frozen Potato Products (French Fries), Apples, Legumes (Peas, Beans, and Lentils), Fresh Potatoes, Grass Feed, and Hops and Hop Extract by TEUs. 

In addition, the NWSA is the nation’s second largest gateway for containerized refrigerated (reefer) exports. Top reefer exports include Frozen Potato Products (French Fries), Apples, Fish, Fresh Potatoes, Pork, Dairy Products, Vegetables, and Beef.

Breakbulk and autos

The NWSA provides a range of services like shipping breakbulk, project cargo, heavy lift cargo, and autos — including helicopters — with regularly scheduled services to/from Asia, Europe, and Oceania, and via transshipment to anywhere in the world. 

In 2022, the alliance handled 478,455 metric tons of breakbulk, up 30.7%. NWSA-operated breakbulk terminals handled 342,351 metric tons and set a new for breakbulk tonnage. Because of high container freight rates and lack of capacity on container vessels, some cargo shifted to Ro-Ro vessels, boosting breakbulk volumes.

Auto volumes were 172,979 units, up 6.5% over 2021. Auto volumes were given a boost due to GLOVIS America’s consolidation of its Kia and Hyundai automobiles to our gateway.


  • 3.4 million TEUs carrying twenty-three million metric tons of containerized cargo in 2022
  • Most of this cargo was international, though 737,477 TEUs were shipped to and from Alaska and Hawaii
  • Domestic terminals handle more than 80% of containerized shipments between Alaska and the lower 48 states
  • Seventeen international container carriers provide regular weekly services to key markets in Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and Oceania
  • Eighteen regularly scheduled liner services connect cargo to over 60 direct international ports of call
  • Four domestic carriers provide regular weekly services to Alaska and Hawaii
  • An economic impact study released in 2019 highlighted impact (both indirect and induced): a total of 58,400 jobs, over $4 billion in labor income, and almost $12.4 billion in business output. Learn more
  • Forty percent of the jobs in Washington state are tied to trade

About The Northwest Seaport Alliance

The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma. We are a leading container gateway in the United States. Under a port development authority, the NWSA manages the container, breakbulk, auto, and some bulk terminals in Seattle and Tacoma.

Top photo credit: "Apples" by Carriagehouse2011 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Related to Maritime Cargo Comings and Goings 2022

Back to Top