The Port of Long Beach moved more than 7.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2019, concluding its second-busiest year on record, Executive Director Mario Cordero announced Wednesday at the annual State of the Port address.
The figures point to a decrease of 5.7 percent from the record-setting pace logged in 2018.
Trade tensions and tariffs were among the key factors impacting trade at U.S. ports over the past year, however, volumes managed to remain steady.
POLB’s imports slid 8.3% to 3,758,438 TEUs. Exports totaled 1,472,802 TEUs, down 3.3%, while empties decreased 2.8% to 2,400,792 TEUs.
Looking ahead into 2020, Cordero sounded an optimistic note of “better times ahead” and progress on trade war discussions between the U.S. and China, while also pointing out the challenges of lagging business investment and continued uncertainty in the industry.
“At the end of the day, we need to be ready for whatever may come,” Cordero said in his speech. “We need to compete, we need to innovate, we need to lead. And most of all, we need to collaborate.”
The best way to do that, Cordero said, is to distinguish Long Beach as the Port of Choice by working toward operational excellence with labor, shipping companies, ocean carriers, truckers and other industry partners.
Speaking of the upcoming milestones, the port authority said that key projects launched over the past decade are nearing completion, including the replacement for the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge. The new cable-stayed span is scheduled to open to traffic later this year.
Additionally, construction is scheduled to wrap up in 2021 on the final phase of the Long Beach Container Terminal.
The port added it plans to invest an additional USD 1 billion in rail improvements over the next decade that will speed the flow of goods across the country.