LA, Long Beach, Oakland to see box volume fall in 2019 by 13.7pc
PORTS in California, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, suffered container throughput declines between January and February, as shippers relaxed front-loading as a means to avoid potential tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration
PORTS in California, Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, suffered container throughput declines between January and February, as shippers relaxed front-loading as a means to avoid potential tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration.
Combined, the trio saw imports of 721,157 TEU in February, falling 13.7 per cent from their 835,656 TEU in January. The drop blows up to 22.4 per cent when the February figure is compared with last December's collective total of 929,059 TEU, reported Lloyd's Loading List.
By way of individual breakdowns, Los Angeles said it processed 348,315 TEU of imports in February, a decrease of 18.3 per cent from 429,923 TEU in January and a dive of 25.7 per cent over the high of 468,905 TEU in December.
Long Beach said it handled 302,865 TEU of imports in February, a fall of 6.5 per cent from 323,838 TEU in January that widens to a decline of 18.8 per cent over its high of 373,098 TEU last December.
Oakland handled 69,977 TEU of imports in February, a drop of 14.6 per cent from the 81,895 TEU it saw in January and a 19.6 per cent decrease over its high of 87,056 TEU last December port of Oakland officials attributed the decrease to a pause by shippers following a 2018 global trade scramble.
'Shipments spiked last year as importers rushed cargo to the US, ahead of anticipated tariff increases,' they said, adding that 'analysts have since predicted an import slowdown due to jammed warehouses and delays in tariff hikes.'
February import cargo decreased five per cent year on year, Oakland officials said, noting that it was the first decline in the port's import volume since July 2018. They said that February exports were down 8.2 per cent and that empty containers returning to their origins rose by seven per cent.
In Los Angeles, port executive director Gene Seroka acknowledged the drop-off in throughput 'after the busiest seven months in the history of our port' but said the 'anticipated ease in cargo volumes provides an opportunity for us to regroup with our stakeholders.'
Drawing particular attention to the surge that developed last year before this year's sharp decline, Mr Seroka noted that, 'with an uneven trade flow, we will be closely evaluating next steps for enhancing supply chain efficiencies.'
The message was much the same at the port of Long Beach, where, according to executive director Mario Cordero: 'Last year set high standards. We had our busiest months and year ever, but we are still expecting modest growth in 2019.'
According to the National Retail Federation, the industry is in its 'annual lull between seasons.' With plans for any further tariff increases on hold, the NRF said imports at the nation's major retail container ports were expected to drop to their lowest level in almost a year this month.
NRF vice-president Jonathan Gold said: 'Now that the holiday season is over and summer has yet to crank up, this is the quiet time of year for retail supply chains.
'Retailers are also taking a break from the rush to bring merchandise in ahead of tariff hikes now that the increase that was scheduled for March has been delayed.'
Said Mr Gold: 'We are hoping that the delay is permanent and, better yet, that tariffs of the past year will be removed entirely. But either way, imports will start to build up again soon as retailers prepare for the summer.'