Port of Los Angeles Sets New Western Hemisphere Cargo Record in 2018

Eleonora Maersk Los Angeles Record
In December 2018, Eleonora Maersk set a new North American cargo record in December 2018 with 27,846 TEUs handled on a single vessel at APM Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo: APM Terminals

Container throughput at the Port of Los Angeles rose to a record 9.45 million TEU in 2018, solidifying Los Angeles’ spot as the Western Hemisphere’s top port for containerized cargo.

In total, the Port tallied 9,458,749 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) during 2018, up 1.2 percent more than 2017’s record-breaking year. The year marked the third consecutive year of record volumes, setting a new record for the most cargo moved annually by a Western Hemisphere port.

“Los Angeles is open for business and engaged with the world — and now, we have another record year at the Port of Los Angeles to show for it,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Our Port helps make L.A. a global hub for commerce, and it continues to drive our economy forward by creating jobs and expanding opportunity across the City.”

At least part of the growth can be attributed to the United States’ trade war with China as retail and businesses stocked up on inventory ahead of tariffs on imposed by the Trump Administration.

“2018 was marked by a robust economy coupled with tariff-induced surges of cargo headed to U.S. retail and manufacturing sectors,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “These extraordinary volumes highlight the need for continued stakeholder collaboration on methods to maximize supply chain efficiency.”

In December, the Port processed 903,258 TEUs, the busiest December in the Port’s 111-year history and a 15.9 percent jump compared to the previous year. It was the sixth consecutive month of volumes exceeding 800,000 TEUs.

“The ILWU is proud to be the backbone of San Pedro Bay port complex,” said Mark Mendoza, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13. “Day and night, the men and women of the ILWU will continue to work the docks to keep this port complex the number one trade gateway in the United States.”

“The Port of Los Angeles continues to be a national leader in cargo volume and innovation,” said John McLaurin, President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA). “These record volumes are a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the Port and all of the supply chain partners.”

December imports increased 21.6 percent to 468,906 TEUs. Exports decreased 3.2 percent to 147,965 TEUs. Along with an 18.9 percent rise in empty containers, overall December TEUs totaled 903,258, an increase of 15.9 percent compared to the previous year.