North America West Coast ports show signs of import normalisation

North America West Coast ports show signs of import normalisation

The rate of contraction for laden imports across major North America West Coast ports has slowed down in March 2023.

A recent analysis from Sea-Intelligence shows that while this could be a temporary change, it may also indicate the normalisation of market conditions.

The contraction has been relatively stable in January and February 2023 at around -5.5 per cent, with the March figure improving to -0.7 per cent.

Similarly, total handled volumes saw a peak contraction of -5.0 per cent in February 2023, with March showing an improvement to -2.2 per cent.

© Sea-Intelligence

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Sea-Intelligence noted that the Y/Y growth for laden inbound volume from January 2020 to March 2023 appears to be a substantial volume contraction, but this may be a distorted analysis due to the volatile nature of demand in the past two years.

The relatively high demand growth in the same months in 2022 means that any growth under that level, even if it is in line with the pre-Covid baseline, would seem like a significant volume contraction.

“What is more concerning however is empty exports have now started to contract, but the rate of contraction for laden exports has not eased up,” said Alan Murphy, CEO, Sea-Intelligence.

“The most likely explanation is that these volumes are being exported through the East Coast, which could result in potential loss of volumes for the West Coast.”

Recent findings from FourKites suggested that labour issues at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are not causing significant disruptions to import volumes.

The US West Coast has been a key route for global imports for years, but labor disputes and constant bottlenecks have made supply chains wary.

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