The nation’s two busiest container ports, the Los Angeles and Long Beach, have reported declines in export volumes in May, amid the ongoing trade war with China.
The two port complexes together handle about 40% of the nation’s containerized import trade with China, and the trade war boosted demand for what was already tight market conditions for warehouse space in the Southern California region.
For LA, it marks the port’s 7th straight month of declines in loaded outbound cargo. The Port of Long Beach meanwhile registered a 19.5% decline in imports in May, which economists suggested may reflect big-box retailer concerns about inventory levels.
“The best we can say right now is that importers — at least through the Southern California ports — were concerned probably more about the size of the inventories right now than with anything else,” said Jock O’Connell, a California-based international trade advisor for Beacon Economics. “Having already brought in vast numbers of commodities in anticipation of previous tariffs, they are pretty well stocked up.”
According to O’Connell, some retailers have simply run out of room to store new goods. The LA and Long Beach port complexes together handle about 40% of the nation’s containerized import trade with China.
The trade war boosted demand for what was already tight market conditions for warehouse space in the Southern California region, as U.S. retailers sped up the import of goods from Asia’s largest economy to avoid new tariffs and ensure they have adequate supplies for the winter holidays.
“The warehouse and distribution centers in Southern California and ports themselves are just so stocked up (with) imports that were brought in previously, that there’s no place to put them,” the economist said.