Port of los angeles

Trade War Impacts Weigh on America’s Busiest Port

Mike Schuler
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December 10, 2019

File Photo: Port of Los Angeles

Throughput volumes at the United States’ busiest container port, the Port of Los Angeles, declined as predicted in November as the U.S.-China Trade War continues to impact American imports and exports.

Volumes at the nearby Port of Long Beach were also down from last year. 

The Port of Los Angeles reported Tuesday it moved 728,918 TEUs in November, representing a decrease of 12.4 percent compared to last year.

After 11 months of 2019, however, total volumes at Los Angeles have increased .4 percent compared to 2018, which was the busiest year on record.

November imports decreased 12.2 percent to 371,350 TEUs compared to last year. Meanwhile, exports declined by 9.2 percent to 138,545 TEUs, marking the thirteenth consecutive month of declining exports. Empty containers also declined 14.8% to 219,024 TEUs.

“As we expected, 2019 winds down with volumes weakening, due largely to the U.S.-China trade war which continues to negatively impact American consumers, manufacturers and U.S. supply chain jobs,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “Although we anticipate tariffs will linger well into 2020, we will continue to aggressively invest in our physical and digital infrastructure through this economic cycle.”

November’s declining volumes followed a similar pattern seen in October when the Port of Los Angeles moved more than 19 percent less containers than it did during 2018’s record-breaking October when shippers were racing to beat expected tariffs.

The Port of Los Angeles in September was one of six major ports on the U.S. West Coast to call on President Trump to settle the U.S.-China Trade War, warning that failure to do so will cause irreversible economic harm to employers, workers and U.S. residents.

At nearby Port of Long Beach, cargo volumes dipped 3.5 percent to 599,985 TEU in November compared to last year. Year-to-date, volumes are down 5.2 percent from 2018’s record-setting pace. 

Imports slid 8.3 percent to 293,287 TEUs, while exports were up 6.9 percent to 123,705 TEUs. Empty containers headed overseas decreased 1.7 percent to 182,992 TEUs.

“The effects of these tariffs are being felt by everyone, from American manufacturers and farmers to the consumers who purchase goods moving through our Port complex,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “As we wait for a resolution to this protracted trade war, the Port will remain competitive by delivering exceptional customer service and moving ahead with capital improvement projects that will allow us to grow well into the future.”


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