American Shipper

West Coast ports continue cargo slide

West Coast ports continue cargo slide

Container cargo volumes moving through the five major West Coast ports continued to slip in October, with the collective ports shedding more than a million containers of volume so far this year.

      The ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma have handled 17 million TEUs so far this year, a 6.6 percent drop from the 18 million TEUS reported during the first 10 months of 2007.

      Since the start of 2008, loaded import volumes are down across the board, in some cases by double digits, such as the Seattle port.

      Exports, which had remained strong in the early part of the year, began to falter during the summer and all five of the ports reported drops in export boxes during October. However, the early export volume gains continue to prop up numbers and most of the ports may end the year with a positive note in their export volumes despite the end of the year fizzle on exports.

      Port volumes for October and the year to date are:

      ' Los Angeles. Port officials reported reported 706,308 TEUs handled in October, a 3.9 percent drop from October 207. Loaded import containers was off 3.8 percent to 370,987 TEUs and loaded export containers slipped 8.2 percent to 134,784 TEUs.

      Through the first 10 months, cargo volumes are down 4.7 percent to 6.63 million TEUs handled compared to 6.96 million TEUs handled between January and October in 2007. Loaded import containers are off

5.5 percent while loaded exports are up 15 percent.

      ' Long Beach. October volume dipped 7.7 percent. Loaded import containers declined 9.5 percent to 292,456 TEUs, and loaded export containers dipped 8.5 percent to 132,521 TEUs.

      For the year to date, officials reported 5.5 million TEUs handled, down 9.3 percent from 6.1 million TEUs in the 2007 year-to- date period. Loaded import containers are off 12.8 percent for the year while exports remain strong with a 15.2 percent increase.

      Long Beach and Los Angeles collectively are down 6.8 percent to 12.13 million TEUs through the first 10 months of 2008.

      ' Oakland. The port moved 193,919 TEUs in October, a 10.7 percent drop. Loaded import containers were down 8.4 percent to 68,054 TEUs, while loaded export containers dropped 14.1 percent to 73,876 TEUs.

      Year-to-date volume is off 4.7 percent to 1.79 million TEUs.    Loaded import containers are down 6.4 percent for the year, while export volume gained 4.4 percent.

      ' Tacoma. The Port of Tacoma handled 157,590 TEUs in October, down 3.6 percent. Loaded import boxes were off 9.2 percent to 53,868 TEUs while loaded export containers fell 17.6 percent to 35,954 TEUs.

      Tacoma's volume dropped 2.4 percent to 1.57 million TEUs. Loaded import boxes were off 6.1 percent, while exports jumped 15.1 percent.

      ' Seattle. October volumes dropped 14 percent to 152,486 TEUs. Loaded import containers fell 17.4 percent to 58,927 TEUs and loaded export container numbers plummeted 24.5 percent to 92,534 TEUs.

      Through 10 months the port handled 1.45 million TEUs, down 11.5 percent. Loaded import boxes slid 15.9 percent thru October and loaded export volume fell 34.4 percent compared to the year-ago period. ' Keith Higginbotham