Restrictive tariffs impact cargo volumes at Port of Long Beach

Aerial shot of a massive cargo ship arriving in the Port of Long Beach, California.

The Port of Long Beach continues to feel the effects of restrictive tariffs in the US as it reports a 3.5% cargo volume dip for November 2019.

In a statement released on 11 December the Port said, “restrictive tariffs continued to drag on the national supply chain”.

This reality resulted in the moment of 599,985 TEUs in November 2019, 3.5% less than the same month in 2018. Imports slid 8.3% to 293,287 TEUs, while exports were up 6.9% to 123,705 TEUs. Empty containers headed overseas decreased 1.7% to 182,992 TEUs.

This dip in cargo volume is reflective of recent findings by Fitch Rating which, in its recent analysis of transportation infrastructure growth in the US, said that there is a divergence in growth between ports in the West and East coast.

The analysis found that East coast ports are taking the lead in growth while in the West tariffs are taking their toll on ports especially reliant on trade from China.

“The effects of these tariffs are being felt by everyone, from American manufacturers and farmers to the consumers who purchase goods moving through our Port complex,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach.

“As we wait for a resolution to this protracted trade war, the Port will remain competitive by delivering exceptional customer service and moving ahead with capital improvement projects that will allow us to grow well into the future.”

Despite a disappointing November, the port reported successful cargo volumes in October and September.

September 2019 cargo’s record was the “best September in [the port’s] 108-year history”. With an 0.8% increase in TEUs from September 2018.

In a statement released in September 2019 Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal said, “The Port of Long Beach is going to have one of its busiest years ever, despite the challenges related to the trade war.”

Meanwhile, October 2019 represented the “second-best October for Long Beach cargo”.

Indeed, Fitch Ratings said in its outlook that higher exposure to Chinese tariffs on the West Coast has led to wide swings in monthly container volumes.

Uncertainty is set to linger for both importers and exporters. The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a gateway for trans-Pacific trade.

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