Lower February imports at Los Angeles, Long Beach
Transpacific volume growth went into reverse in February at the ports Los Angeles and Long Beach, as the two large Californian ports reported an 8-percent fall in inbound container traffic to about 397,000 TEUs from about 430,000 TEUs a year earlier.
Although the drop concerns a period of only one month, and may be reversed when the peak season starts, it raises questions about growth trends in the eastbound transpacific trade this year.
Los Angeles reported a 10-percent fall in inbound traffic to about 243,000 TEUs, while preliminary February traffic figures at neighboring Long Beach show a 3-percent fall in inbound volumes to about 154,000 TEUs.
“I don’t have a good answer for the drop,” said Art Wong, spokesman for the port of Long Beach. Wong suggested that, because the last six months of 2003 were stronger than expected, importers had to order more than usual from October through January to replenish inventories. “Maybe they ordered too much,” he said, adding that this one only a guess. “Or they cut back in February to see where the economy goes next,” he added.
Wong noted that the port of Long Beach inbound numbers “could go up and down for a couple of months until the economy makes a strong move in one direction or the other.”
By contrast, outbound traffic at the port of Long Beach saw a 14-percent jump in volume, to about 77,000 TEUs in February. Outbound containers at Los Angeles were down 5 percent, to about 95,000 TEUs.
Total traffic, including empty containers, was down at both ports, with volume falling 2 percent at Long Beach and 15 percent at Los Angeles.