POLA and POLB post solid November volumes, despite moderation from October levels
POLA handled 832,231 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), marking the fifth consecutive month of volumes topping 800,000 TEU, and POLB November volumes, at 621,835 TEU, rose 1.5% annually.
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November volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach (POLB) each posted substantial, and, in some cases, record-breaking, performances, despite heading in different directions
POLA handled 832,231 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU), marking the fifth consecutive month of volumes topping 800,000 TEU, as well as the sixth highest-volume month in POLA history, with POLA volumes expected to top 9 million TEU in 2018. Total November volume was down 9.9% annually compared to November 2017, which, at the time, was an all-time record until October 2018 came in higher.
November POLA imports fell 8.8% annually to 422,793 TEU, with exports down 14.2% to 152,527 TEU. Empty containers fell 9.1% to 257,011 TEU. On a year-to-date basis through November, total POLA volume, at 8,555,490 TEU, are flat annually.
“In November, we processed a number of high-volume vessels brought into service to facilitate the holiday season cargo surge and accommodate the push to import cargo before tariffs that were previously scheduled to increase on January 1st,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a statement. “As we enjoy the holiday season, I’m grateful to all of our labor workforce, customers and stakeholders for the role they play in moving such a high volume of trade. As 2019 approaches, we are committed to tackling the challenges and seizing the opportunities that await.”
POLA officials said that The Eleonora Maersk, calling at the Port’s APM Terminals, set a North American record for a single cargo vessel with the off-loading and then loading of 27,846 TEUs.
POLB November volumes, at 621,835 TEU, rose 1.5% annually. Imports headed up 0.2% to 319,877 TEU, and exports dropped 8.4% to 115,774 TEU. Empties saw an 11.4% increase to 186.183 TEU.
Through November, total POLB volume is at 7,349,377, which marks a 7.3% annual increase, with port officials noting it is a near certainty that 2018 POLB volume will top last year’s record tally of 7,544,507 TEU.
Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero commented that recent container trends — the growth of imports relative to exports, the large number of unloaded containers — illustrate how the higher tariffs imposed this year by the United States and China have impacted the flow of commerce
“American retailers are stocking up on goods made in China to avoid anticipated higher tariffs,” said Cordero in a statement. “You’re seeing the opposite effect on the other side of the ocean. Chinese businesses seem to be already looking to other countries for goods and raw materials, meaning there’s less demand for American exports and more empty containers are being shipped.”
Todd Fowler, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst, observed in a research note that despite the moderation in POLA and POLB volumes from significantly elevated levels in October are still posting annual gains.
“Trends likely reflect on-going pull forward ahead of anticipated tariffs, though to a slightly lesser degree than last month,” he wrote. “Looking ahead, we anticipate import volumes will moderate seasonally through year-end, and potentially be seasonally soft in 1Q19 considering recent strength, with additional uncertainty stemming from the potential for incremental tariffs.”