Californian Ports Still Rebalancing Empties

Californian ports Oakland and Los Angeles are still rebalancing containers dislocated by wintertime trade slowdowns caused by labor dispute as they continue to reposition empty containers.

Shipments of empty containers back to origins in Asia were up 20 percent at the Port of Okland in May, which was the busiest month in nearly four years at the port. The empties at the port of Los Angeles increased by 7.9 percent during the same period.

The port of Oakland handled 213,260 cargo containers last month, the most since it reported volume of 216,276 containers in August 2011.

The total volume of import, export and empty containers was up 3.8 percent in May from a year ago. It was the third straight month of year-over-year volume increases reported in Oakland.

“We’re seeing steady improvement, especially in import cargo,” said the port’s Maritime Director, John Driscoll. “Our job now is to accelerate the momentum.”

Loaded import container volume increased 4.5 percent in May from the same period a year ago, whereas the export volume declined 5.6 percent in May, the port said.

The decrease was attributed to a strong dollar which makes U.S. exports more expensive. Nevertheless, export volume of 79,890 containers was the most in Oakland since last October.

May 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles edged up 8 percent compared to the same period last year. The port handled a total of 694,791 TEUs in May 2015.

Imports decreased 8 percent and exports declined 3.5 percent in May 2015. Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 1.7 percent. Factoring in empties, which increased 7.9 percent, overall May 2015 volumes (694,791 TEUs) increased  8 percent.

For the first five months of 2015, overall volumes are down 4 percent compared to the same period in 2014, the port said.

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