The Port of Long Beach suffered a 16.6% drop in volumes in May 2019 compared to 2018, while the neighbouring Port of Los Angeles had its busiest May in its 112-year history.
Mario Cordero, executive director at the Port of Long Beach, attributed the fall in throughput to a variety of factors which are combining to impact international trade.
Cordero said: “One year into the trade war, escalating tariffs have pushed retailers to order goods early, warehouses are brimming with inventory as a result, and in response, ocean carriers are manging their vessels to deal with reduced demand.
“We are hopeful Washington and Beijing can resolve their differences before we see long-term changes to the supply chain that impact jobs in both nations.”
A total of 573,623 teu moved through the port in May as imports fell 19.5% to 290,568 teu and exports declined 15.3% to 120,577 teu.
Empty containers sent overseas dipped 11.7% to 162,479 teu and, calendar year to date, Long Beach has handled over 3m teu – 6% less containers than the same point in 2018.
The Port of Los Angeles, however, has seen a 5.2% rise in volumes in the same period and has recorded a 7.8% year-on-year increase in volumes for May 2019, handling a total 828,662 teu.
Previously, the port’s strongest May volumes occurred in 2017 with 796,217.
Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said: “I am extremely pleased with another record month of throughput and grateful to our supply chain stakeholders, terminal operators and unparalleled labour force for their performance.”
May imports increased 5.5% to 427,789 teu although exports fell slightly by 0.8% to 167,357 teu. Empty containers increased 20% to 233,515 teu.
Seroka added: “As we prepare for our traditional peak shipping season in the months ahead, we’re closely monitoring global trade tensions that have created heightened unpredictability.”