Following a solid Q1, 2016, the Port of Long Beach’s container cargo volumes decreased by 22.1% in April compared to the same month in 2015, after lower-than-expected consumer spending in recent months.
The decline also reflects shifts in evolving vessel alliances that have shifted ship deployments.
Amid a soft retail climate in the US and economic woes overseas, the decline in imports was accompanied by exports that were down 18% due to the continued strength of the US dollar.
Commenting on the volume decline, Jon Slangerup, CEO of the Port of Long Beach, said: “The additional berthing choices offered by vessel alliances are dispersing cargo across more terminals and ports.
“These volume shifts will continue to occur as newly formed alliances take shape. Our long-term outlook remains strong as we continue to invest in our facilities and offer world-class customer service.”
It was recently reported that Hapag-Lloyd had confirmed its alliance plans with five other Asian carriers, which is aimed at making the carriers more competitive in light of the recent Ocean Alliance, as well as 2M.
Through the first four months of 2016, cargo volume was down 2.2%, reflecting slowing economic growth nationally.
US Gross Domestic Product was up 1.7% in Q4, 2015, compared to Q1, 2016 GDP growth of only 0.5%.
The port moved a total of more than 478,000 TEU in April. This includes more than 247,000 TEU in imports — largely consumer goods — while exports totalled more than 112,000 TEU.
Empty containers were down 25.8% to more than 118,000 TEU, which are returned overseas to be refilled with imports.
Lori Ann Guzmán, President of the Harbor Commission, said: “Economic conditions today are very volatile, but we remain confident in our long-term prospects.
“The Port of Long Beach is preparing for economic uncertainty by carefully reviewing our budget and looking for savings at every opportunity.”
Guzmán concluded: “While we still have significant modernisation projects planned for the next 10 years, the pace of the projects will be determined by the health of the economy.”
PTI previously reported that US West Coast ports as a whole are slipping in comparison to 2015, with the Port of Long Beach seeing a more than 87,000 TEU decline in throughput in March, 2016 in comparison to 2015.
However, this could change with the opening of the Panama Canal on June 26, 2016, as ports may have to significantly improve operations in a bid to handle the inherent surge of containerised goods.