LOS ANGELES (AP) – The port of Los Angeles – the nation’s busiest – is on track to move a record volume of imported goods this year, even as authorities struggle to cut shipping traffic and mitigate the supply chain growls that have been blamed for product shortages and higher selling prices.
âSustained and unmatched consumer demand in the United States is pushing our import numbers to new levels,â Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles executive director, told reporters in an online briefing. “We are on track for an all-time import record inâ¦ 2021.”
Freight containers are leaving the docks faster, Seroka said, but even so, nearly 100 ships were drifting near or heading towards the port or its neighboring sister port in Long Beach.
Meanwhile, about two months after President Joe Biden announced an agreement to establish 24-hour operations at the Port of Los Angeles, only one of the seven container terminals has achieved that goal. Part of the problem is establishing round-the-clock operations by coordinating the various supply chain shutdowns overnight, including warehouse space and truck transportation.
Seroka said the Port of Los Angeles is expected to import around 5.5 million container units of cargo this year, a 13% jump from the previous record set in 2018. Despite a series of measures intended to speed up the flow of freight, November’s total imports were down from 2020, in part because many of the ships that arrived were unscheduled and smaller in size.
He said warehouse inventories were up about 2 points from the same period last year, and in-store inventories were only slightly below 2020 levels for November.
âEven with the tensions in the supply chain, we continue to deliver record amounts of freight,â he said. Much remains to be done, but “the goods are reaching the hands of consumers and manufacturers across the country.”
Exports continued their long slide, with 33 of the last 37 months posting declines. Seroka attributed the drop in part to trade tensions with China under the Trump administration, a stronger dollar that makes US goods less competitive, and the large number of empty containers leaving the port for Asia, which occupy l space that might otherwise be used by American products. .
Seroka said the number of import containers at the docks lingering for nine days or more has fallen 56%, since port authorities threatened to impose charges for low-speed cargo that sits on it. the docks.
Another challenge: Seroka said more than 70,000 empty containers are in terminals or port properties, which can make it more difficult to move goods to trucks and trains. He said port officials were urging shipping companies to clear the backlog and, if necessary, the agency could consider financial penalties for companies that fail to do so.
When asked why the crowded line of ships remained, despite efforts to improve operations, Seroka said, âThe strength of the American consumer – American factories trying to improve production – just means more cargo is on the way.”
And he said snags in the supply chain, given its complexity, are likely to continue.
âIt’s almost like a Whac-a-Mole game. We try to fix one problem and then two or three more come up, âhe said.
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