US West Coast Ports Make a Comeback

After experiencing a significant slowdown just a year ago, the US West Coast ports are now seeing a rebound in TEU import volumes, according to market intelligence provider Datamyne.

Imports through the port of Los Angeles increased by 36% January through February of 2016 and by 30% through the port of Long Beach, compared with the same time period in 2015.

“West Coast ports have indeed made a comeback from the labor disputes and slowdowns that negatively impacted volumes in early 2015,” says Datamyne CEO, Brendan McCahill.

“Combined, LA and Long Beach made up for 39% of all ocean imports to the United States in January and February of this year, up 4 percent over the same two months last year.”

The port of Oakland also had a notable 52% increase in import TEUs compared with January and February of 2015.

The US West Coast ports’ recovery comes after 29 ports were hit by prolonged contract disputes between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which led to significant drops in the ports’ cargo volumes in 2015.

Namely, the nine-month-long negotiations over a new labor contract, saw the combined volumes at ports of Seattle and Tacoma drop by 13% in January 2015, while containerized imports at the Puget Sound gateway fell by 21% and exports dipped by 7%. The Port of Long Beach’s container volumes plunged by 18.8% in January, and the Port of Oakland saw its cargo volumes decrease by 32%.

The disputes were finally concluded in February 2015, when a tentative agreement on a five-year contract was reached.

Datamyne further said that East and Gulf Coast ports did not see the same sweeping growth.

Compared to January through February of last year, the port of New York/Newark increased in import volume by 5%, Norfolk, VA was up 17% and Houston declined by 4%.

The port of Savannah, which looked to have prospered from the western slowdowns last year, has continued to grow by 9% so far this year.

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