port of los angeles

Port of Los Angeles Calls for Trade Stability as Cargo Volumes Hit Record

Mike Schuler
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September 10, 2019

FILE PHOTO: A container ship arrives at Yusen Terminals (YTI) on Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The head of the busiest container port in the United States is calling for an end to the U.S.-China trade war even as cargo volumes hit a new single-month record at the port, marking the fifth consecutive record-setting month.

The Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday reported that 861,081 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) were moved at the port in August, representing a 4.2% increase over the same period last year and setting a new record for the busiest August in the 112-year history of the port.

Overall, volumes at the port in the first eight months of 2018 have increased 5.7% compared to 2018, when the port set an all-time cargo record.

While you’d think five consecutive months of record-setting volumes would be good news, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka is warning that the numbers could be deceiving due to the influx of imports ahead tariffs on Chinese goods.

“The final months of 2018 ended with an extraordinary influx of imports to beat expected tariffs on China-origin goods,” Seroka said.  “We don’t expect to see those kind of volumes in the months ahead.  We need a negotiated settlement of the U.S.-China trade war to restore global trade stability.”

According to the Port of Los Angeles, August 2019 imports increased 4.1% to 437,613 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports decreased 10% to 146,284 TEUs, the 10th consecutive monthly decline of exports. Empty containers increased 13.8% to 277,183 TEUs. Combined, August overall volumes were 861,081 TEUs. The previous August record was set in 2017 with 847,857 TEUs. 

Not all cargo volume increases are being chalked up to the U.S-China trade war, however.

“Our strong volume growth this year is due in part to our global supply chain relationships, aggressive marketing and improvements in operational efficiencies,” said Seroka. “We continue to build value with the Port Optimizer™, a digitization tool which increases visibility of incoming cargo and improves logistics planning and overall efficiency.”

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