The Port of Long Beach container volumes fell 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared last year as the rush to beat tariffs eased.
The Port of Long Beach reported Wednesday moving more than 1.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) January through March.
Despite lingering trade uncertainty, the quarter still marked the second-busiest first quarter in the port’s history, trailing only the first quarter of 2018. Last year, the Port of Long Beach set an annual record for container movement at 8.1 million TEUs.
“With warehouses full from shippers rushing to beat the looming threat of escalating tariffs, shipments slowed somewhat,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “It’s going to take some time for inventory to cycle to markets and for typical growth to resume.”
Almost 1.4 million TEUs passed through the harbor from December 2018 to January. December was the Port’s second-busiest month ever.
Long Beach Harbor Commission President Tracy Egoscue noted that the port’s recent economic forecast predicted a 1.8 percent increase in North American imports this year.
“After last year’s historic result, we’re expecting modest growth this year, but it’s always important to look to the future,” said Egoscue. “That means positioning our Port for sustained long-term success with our multibillion-dollar capital improvement plan, designed to provide customers with cargo movement that is predictable, reliable, efficient and fast.”
Marine terminals and dockworkers moved 552,821 TEUs in March, a 3.9 percent decrease compared to the same month a year ago. Imports were down 7.8 percent at 247,039 TEUs while exports were 7.7 percent lower, 131,436 TEUs. Empties shipped overseas rose 5.7 percent to 174,346 TEUs.
By volume, the Port of Long Beach is the second busiest port in the United States behind neighboring Port of Los Angeles.