The second busiest container port in the United States just had its first best quarter ever.
The Port of Long Beach kicked off 2018 with its marine terminals handling almost 1.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units from January through March, making for its best-ever first quarter.
The quick start is 19.4 percent more than the first quarter of 2017, the Port’s busiest year on record with total throughput of 7.54 million TEU on the year. The previous first quarter record was set in 2007.
The port said throughput in March reached 575,258 TEUs, an increase of 13.8 percent compared to the same month last year.
“Our March cargo jumped despite the shipping slowdown during the Lunar New Year holiday in China,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “One of the most encouraging signs throughout this surge in cargo last year and this year is the operational efficiency at our marine terminals. We are handling record levels of cargo with no delays.”
Dockworkers moved 267,824 import TEUs in March, 7.3 percent more than a year ago. Meanwhile, exports also grew 18.3 percent to 142,419 TEUs. The large number of imported goods demanded by American consumers meant container ships hauled 165,015 empty TEUs overseas to be refilled, according to the port.
“Our business development trips are bringing us more trade activity,” said Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “We see favorable responses during our visits with our overseas partners. We’re pleased to be off to a great start in 2018 following a successful 2017 for us and our industry partners.”
The good news for the Port of Long Beach comes as the United States and China are considering tariffs on certain goods shipped between to the two countries.
On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings said that trans-Pacific container shipping is the shipping sector most exposed to the U.S.-China tariffs, but it said the industry should be able to manage as long as the situation does not escalate into an all-out trade war.
The Port of Long Beach is the second busiest container port in the United States behind the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, which handled 9.3 million TEUs in 2017.