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Trade wars and pandemic shrink cargo volumes at US coast ports

TRADE wars and the Covid-19 pandemic continue to hurt traffic through the nation's East and West Coast ports in 2020, with some reporting double-digit declines in the first half of the year

30 July 2020 - 19:00

TRADE wars and the Covid-19 pandemic continue to hurt traffic through the nation's East and West Coast ports in 2020, with some reporting double-digit declines in the first half of the year.

The Port of Los Angeles announced that cargo volume was down 9.6 per cent in June and 17.1 per cent in the first six months of 2020 compared to 2019, due to global trade tensions and the pandemic. June loaded imports fell 6.8 per cent to 369,189 TEU compared to the previous year, and loaded exports dropped 21.3 per cent to 109,586 TEU. Empty containers declined 7.2 per cent to 212,701 TEU. In total, June volumes totalled 691,475 TEU, officials said.



'Given the circumstances of an unresolved trade war and an ongoing pandemic, our June and mid-year cargo volumes are in line with our forecasting,' Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka said in a statement. 'Our focus now is on enhancing the port's competitiveness with infrastructure, technology and operational efficiencies as we help get Americans back to work and drive economic recovery.'



Officials at the South Carolina Ports Authority reported lower volumes this week as well, although to a lesser degree. Reporting on its 2020 fiscal year, ended June 30, officials said the port was on track to hit another record year until the pandemic hit this spring 'causing global disruption to supply chains and business operations.' SC Ports finished the fiscal year with 2.32 million TEU handled at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals, down 2.8 per cent compared to fiscal 2019. SC Ports moved 1.32 million pier containers, which measures the total number of boxes handled, in fiscal year 2020 - down 3.4 per cent from a year ago.



South Carolina's inland ports fared better. Inland Port Greer finished the fiscal year with 140,155 rail moves, down 2.1 per cent, and Inland Port Dillon achieved its highest fiscal year volume on record with 32,453 rail moves, up 9.7 per cent. Inland Port Dillon also achieved its best June yet with 2,696 rail moves last month, officials said, according to DV Velocity.



'The pandemic impacted businesses across the board and our volumes reflect that. We hope to see continued recovery as we begin fiscal year 2021,' SC Ports president and CEO Jim Newsome said.


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