The Port of Savannah‘s container traffic grew by 18.2 percent in December 2009, sparking hopes for a sustained turnaround after 20 months of near-consistent declines.

Exports accounted for much of the growth, jumping 11.4 percent along with an 8 percent rise in imports compared to the same month a year earlier.

December capped off a period of modest 3.6 percent growth during the final quarter of 2009.

October marked the first positive monthly growth since May 2008, when the ports began feeling the impact of the global economic recession after a banner year in 2007.

October’s optimism was cut short, however, by a 6.8 percent drop in November.

The December numbers give officials hope for a lasting recovery.

“The GPA remains cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the current fiscal year” ending in June, said Stephen Green, chairman of the ports authority.

The Port of Brunswick reported record tonnage of 185,424 last month, four times higher than the previous December, crediting an increase in grain exports. Auto and machinery units through Brunswick for December increased by 47 percent but were still down by 10.4 percent for the current fiscal year.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...