Officials from the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach say 2019 container volumes are unlikely to meet 2018 levels even as they scramble to increase trade with countries other than China. Cargo volumes were up for a fifth consecutive month in August in the Port of Los Angeles, with the port handling 861,081 TEU of containerized cargo, 4.2% more than in August 2018.
The increase was due to strong import volumes and movements of empty containers offsetting declines in exports.
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 in exports. Empty containers increased 13.8% to 277,183 TEUs.
Gene Seroka, the port’s executive director, attributed the increase to “global supply chain relationships, aggressive marketing and improvements in operational efficiencies.”
Seroka said the port had expected that “if China was to be lessened in their global impact on world trade then other countries would be looked at for sourcing of materials and finished goods.”
That prediction was born out in trade statistics he presented to the council. In the first half of this year for the San Pedro Bay complex—the combined Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach–container imports from China were down 9.6% while imports from other countries rose 9%.
“Because of retaliatory tariffs and other policies, the American exporter has been harmed irreparably,” said Seroka. He pointed to steep declines in a variety of exports: agricultural and forestry commodities such as soybeans and grain, fruit, logs and lumber; recyclables such as scrap metal; and heavy machinery, including automobiles. Seroka showed slides indicating big increases this year in imports from Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and exports to Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Cambodia and Indonesia through the two ports.