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Rail News: Intermodal

Ports of LA, Long Beach cite trade war for dip in October's cargo volume

In the first 10 months of 2019, the Port of Los Angeles' total volumes were down 1.8 percent compared to last year, which was the port's busiest year ever.
Photo – Port of Los Angeles


Trade tariffs took a toll on cargo volumes last month at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, port officials announced late last week.

The Port of Los Angeles logged 770,189 20-foot equivalent Units (TEUs) in October, a 19.1 percent decrease compared to 2018’s record-breaking October, port officials said in a press release.

In the first 10 months of 2019, total volumes were down 1.8 percent compared to last year, which was the port's busiest year ever, they said.

“With 25 percent fewer ship calls, 12 consecutive months of declining exports and now decreasing imports, we’re beginning to feel the far-reaching effects of the U.S.-China trade war on American exporters and manufacturers,” said Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka. “We expect soft volumes in the months ahead and with the holiday season upon us, less cargo means fewer jobs for American workers. We need a negotiated settlement and the tariffs lifted.”

In October 2018, cargo owners were importing freight at a record pace to get ahead of expected tariffs. Last month, imports fell 19.1 percent to 392,768 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports declined 19.3 percent to 140,332 TEUs, the sector's 12th consecutive monthly decline.

Empty containers also declined 19 percent to 237,088 TEUs.

Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach handled 688,425 TEUs last month, down 2.4 percent compared with the same month in 2018. Imports dipped 7.4 percent to 337,062 TEUs, while exports jumped 9.8 percent to 131,635 TEUs. Empty containers delivered overseas to be filled with goods decreased 0.8 percent to 219,728 TEUs.

The Port of Long Beach moved 6,366,787 TEUs during the first 10 months of 2019, down 5.4 percent from last year’s record-setting pace.

“As the trade war lingers, these tariffs continue to impact the U.S. economy and have created uncertainty for the business of importers and exporters,” said Mario Cordero, the port's executive director.  “We are hopeful for a prompt resolution of the tariff situation between the U.S. and China. In the meantime, we are moving forward with capital improvements that should bring long-term growth.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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