The Port of Los Angeles said its terminals handled 779,903 TEUs in September 2019, a 2.7% decline from the same month last year. In contrast, volumes at the port are up 4.7% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2019 to about 7.1 million TEU.
“The ill-advised U.S.-China trade war continues to wreak havoc on American exporters and manufacturers,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “We’ve seen declining exports for 11 consecutive months while our fastest growing market segment is exporting empty containers back to Asia. It’s likely we’ll see softer volumes in the fourth quarter. We must have a negotiated settlement of the trade war as it is beginning to impact the more than 3 million jobs in the U.S. that are tied to this port complex.”
September 2019 imports decreased 2.9% to 402,320 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports decreased 11% to 130,769 TEUs, marking the eleventh consecutive monthly decline of exports.
It was expected that fourth quarter import volumes into the U.S. this year might be lower than in 2018 because many companies had pulled forward shipments last year in the face of threatened higher tariffs.
Six West Coast ports — Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Oakland, Port of Portland, Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma —sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Sept. 23 sharing their concerns about the long-term impacts of the escalating trade conflict between China and the United States.
In that letter they told Trump that “the impacts of the back-and-forth tariffs between the United States and China have hit our exporters particularly hard, and we are hearing deep concern from our customers about their increasing challenges due to rising U.S. tariffs and Chinese retaliation.”
They noted that ”California is the largest exporter to China of any state in the nation; in 2018, California ports collectively saw a decrease of about 30% in exports to China.”
The letter said the ports “support a balanced trading relationship with our global partners but are deeply concerned that the continued imposition of ever-increasing tariffs leads to higher costs on U.S. businesses and consumers and loss of valuable markets without any long-term strategic benefit.”