Just 327,417 TEU have been exported with goods. Meanwhile exports of empty containers hit a record high this year with a total of 5.3million, up 57.6 per cent from 2020. In July 770,475 empty TEU were, down on May's total of 876,506 TEU.
Laden container exports have been under pressure not only from lower exports from the US manufacturers as a direct result of the pandemic and the weak recovery of the sector, but also because of the pressure the container shipping industry is currently facing. Carriers are desperate to get containers back to the Far East as fast as possible for their next fronthaul load, even if this means sacrificing a backhaul load. Full warehouses and delays in hinterland transport all make it harder for exporters to secure the containers they need for their exports.
So far this year, a total of 2.6 million TEU of laden containers has been exported by USWC ports, a 7.0 per cent drop from the same period in 2020, which was itself down 7.8 per cent from the first seven months of 2020. USWC exports of laden containers had already been falling before the pandemic and the current disruption. The last time there was any meaningful growth was in 2016 when laden exports rose 7.3 per cent. Since then, laden container exports have fallen year-on-year in every year except for 2018 when they grew by a measly 0.3 per cent.
BIMCO's chief shipping analyst, Peter Sand, commented: 'The 7 per cent year-on-year drop in accumulated laden container exports from the US West Coast is just another example of how disruptions to the container shipping market over the past twelve months are affecting trade. Laden exports have been on a downward trend since March and as congestion, port waiting times and the container shortage remains high, exporters may continue to struggle finding containers for their goods, even as US manufacturing, and thereby potentially also exports recover from their pandemic slump.'