Truckers at West Coast ports were working less as containerized imports and exports fell in February,
indicating continuing concern about the economy and consumer confidence.
According to the Journal of Commerce, containerized imports through Long Beach, Calif., fell 12.5 percent in February compared to the same period last year. Imports through Los Angeles were down 8.2 percent in February, the first monthly decline in more than a year. Containerized imports through the Port of Tacoma declined 18 percent in February. Loaded import and export containers at the Port of Oakland declined 3.3 percent in January and February, compared to the first two months of 2000.
The late arrival of the Chinese New Year could have contributed to the decline, the paper reports. Factories in important trading nations such as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong shut down for about two weeks to celebrate the holiday, and exports to the U.S. drop off during that period.
However, exports did not fare much better. Asian manufacturers are cutting back on their purchase of raw materials and packaging materials used in the production of consumer goods, causing U.S. exports of those materials to decline.
Containerized exports in February dropped at all ports except Los Angeles. Exports to Asia were strong during the first half of 2000, but they began to soften at mid-year and have declined since last fall.
West Coast ports handle more than 80 percent of U.S. merchandise imports from Asia.