Long Beach: Import Growth to Stagnate in 2019


The Port of Long Beach has forecasted a moderate rise in container imports during 2019, following a year of record cargo-growth and trade disputes between the US and China.

Speaking at the Port of Long Beach’s annual ‘Pulse of the Ports Peak Season Forecast’, experts from each segment of the shipping and logistics sectors discussed the cargo outlook for 2019, as well as economic trends that could have an impact on performance.

While 2018 witnessed a 6.1% increase in the volume of North American imports, this could have been the result of companies rushing shipments in anticipation of a potential tariff hike which, despite being planned for either the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019, never came to fruition.

Rahul Sharan looks beyond the US-China trade war to the future of dry bulk in a recent Port Technology technical paper

With retailers now expecting to import less during the first half of 2019, the annual import volume for 2019 is projected to grow by just 1.8%.

Imports are also expected to slow during the second half of 2019 as a consequence of the US’ sluggish economy, with the initial positive effects of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 beginning to dissipate.

Melissa Peralta, senior economist and forecaster for TTX, commented: “Economic fundamentals should continue to be supportive into 2019, albeit at a moderating pace. But imports may struggle to keep pace with overall economic growth due to an overhang of freight delivered in late 2018.”



The Port of Long Beach could seek to benefit from changing circumstances in the maritime sector, welcoming more container ships along with other West Coast ports as the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 sulphur regulations drawn nearer.

According to Peralta, the increased costs associated with the new rules may cause shippers to utilize shorter routes, giving locations like Long Beach a distinct advantage in terms of trade with Asia.



Tracy Egoscue, Long Beach Harbour Commission President, said: “With today’s program, Pulse of the Ports has again proven to be a valuable source of information for the entire industry, and the Board of Harbor Commissioners is pleased to have the Port host this annual event.”

Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach Executive Director, also made a statement: “Our team will continue to move forward with our capital improvement plan of action to further operational excellence as we plan for growth in the long run.

“We invest in our Port, allowing us to move cargo faster, more reliably and more sustainably than the competition.”

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