Throughput up at Long Beach
Throughput at the port of Long Beach, the United States' second-busiest container terminal, rose almost 12 per cent last month as trade volumes at the facility continued their erratic pattern since the September 11 terror attacks.
Overall, more than 410,100 teu (20 ft equivalent units) passed through its terminals, with laden imports representing 61 per cent of loaded throughput for the month. March volumes were down a comparative 5 per cent to 343,606 teu. Nearly 94,200 empties were exported last month as Asian shipping lines, in particular, rushed to reposition empties to eastern manufacturing bases, serving the sudden surge in US retailer demand for goods.
Part of the demand can be attributed to resurgent Western economies and consumer confidence, but Asian lines in Japan and China say some of the volumes are also an indication of retailers stocking up in advance of anticipated labour problems at US west coast ports.
The labour contract between the 12,000 west coast members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and port employers expires on July 31 and initial talks have shown little sign of compromise on productivity, job security, worker safety and pension issues.
Imports at Long Beach reached more than 227,900 teu last month, up 12.5 per cent year on year. Leading imports included Asian-made clothing, toys and consumer electronics. Long Beach, which moved nearly US$95 billion in cargo last year, saw its place on the world throughput table drop two places to 10th as Shenzhen and Hamburg moved above it.