Container imbalance widens at L.A., Long Beach ports
The dominant U.S. West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach saw a further widening of the imbalance of inbound and outbound loaded containers in April, leading to a surge in empty container moves.
In April, the two ports’ combined volume of loaded outbound containers was down 3 percent to 172,836 TEUs, while the stronger flow of inbound loaded boxes gained 3 percent, totaling 500,097 TEUs.
The port of Los Angeles handled 171,874 empty TEUs in April, a 27-percent increase over the same month in 2002, while Long Beach witnessed a 33-percent jump in empty containers crossing its docks to 125,015 TEUs. Total empty moves for the two ports — which comprise mainly boxes returning empty to Asia — were up 29 percent overall to 296,889 TEUs.
The shipping line Hapag-Lloyd recently described the transpacific trade as “the region with the largest structural imbalance,” as two-thirds of container volumes in this trade are American imports from Asia.
The two southern Californian ports continued to report opposed trends in their individual volumes for April, as Los Angeles keeps attracting a greater share of cargo, while volumes at Long Beach are decreasing.
The port of Los Angeles reported a 24-percent increase in inbound loaded containers to 319,621 TEUs, and a 22 percent rise in total traffic to 589,035 TEUs.
The port of Long Beach saw a 12-percent fall in inbound loaded containers to 200,476 TEUs, and a 2-percent drop in total traffic to 400,786 TEUs.