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Southern California Import Container Volume Stagnates, Contract Talks Blamed

August 19, 2014

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Import cargo volume at the nation’s busiest port complex barely increased, if at all in July, due to shipper concerns about contract talks involving longshoremen working at West Coast ports.

At the Port of Los Angeles containerized cargo volume increased just 0.25% compared to July 2013. Total cargo was 717,407.00 twenty-foot equivalent units. Container imports dropped 1.98%, while exports rose 3.62%.

Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 0.31%, from 528,331.05 TEUs in July 2013 to 526,688.00 TEUs in July 2014.

Meantime, total cargo container numbers rose 3.7% during the same time at the nearby Port of Long Beach compared to the same month last year, making for the Southern California seaport’s busiest July since 2010.

A total of 583,060 TEUs were moved the facility. Of these, 297,615 TEUs were imports, which rose slightly by 0.9%. Exports declined 6.2% to 124,126 TEUs.

The relatively flat import numbers in July came after a surge in June 2014, when retailers were stocking up for back-to-school shopping, according to the port.

The Journal of Commerce reports the mixed numbers in import container volume is due to continuing talks between longshoremen, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and terminal operators, represented by the Pacific Maritime Association.

The two have been working since earlier this year to hammer out a new labor contract for the longshoremen, but they failed to meet the July 1 deadline, though longshoremen remain on the job.

Also, some ocean shipping companies report they have seen increased cargo volume heading to East Coast ports, as some shippers have been diverting freight due to worries of a possible strike by longshoremen or a lockout by terminal operators.

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