Cargo volume is up at the Port of Long Beach – will it last?
Long Beach port officials reported a 16.5 jump in container volume for April compared to the same time last year, an early sign of hope for port officials looking for a comeback after a disappointing 2016.
Officials attribute the jump to a series of agreements among the world’s largest shipping companies that took effect last month. Under new alliances competing shippers share vessels and deployment, cutting down on cost in an industry that had been struggling financially.
Analysts warn that the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports could be increasingly competing for business as shippers consolidate their calls in favor of one port over another.
April was the first month that the new alliances took hold, and Lori Ann Guzman, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, said the jump in volumes shows the local port is faring well.
But economists say it may be too early to tell what these figures mean, especially without Los Angeles having yet reported its volumes.
“We really don’t know what this is going to do the market and the ports yet,” said Paul Bingham, a trade economist at Boston-based Economic Development Research Group. “There’s still a shakeout period for everyone to adjust to the new vessel calls and operating patterns.”
In Long Beach, container boxes imports increased 16.5 percent in April compared to the same period last year and exports rose 3.1 percent. Overall, cargo volume was up 5.1 percent from the same period in 2016.
Last year the port saw cargo decline 5.8 percent after the now-defunct South Korean carrier, Hanjin Shipping Co., filed for bankruptcy. The shipping company had owned a majority stake in the Port of Long Beach’s busiest terminal.