U.S. Long Beach Port hopes China-U.S. trade disputes to be resolved quickly

Date: Monday, June 24, 2019
Source: Hellenic Shipping News

The tariff disputes between the United States and China are affecting the Port of Long Beach in California, and now workers at America’s main gateway for trans-Pacific trade are hoping the two countries can swiftly resolve their differences.

“We remain hopeful that the United States and China can quickly resolve their differences and come to an agreement for the good of both nations,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, told Xinhua in an email interview Wednesday.

According to the latest monthly cargo data issued last week, the port saw its May import container volume slide 19.5 percent from a record high in the same month of last year.

A total of 573,623 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) moved through the port in May, 16.6 percent down compared to the same month in 2018. Imports decreased 19.5 percent to 290,568 TEUs, exports declined 15.3 percent to 120,577 TEUs, while empty containers sent overseas dipped 11.7 percent to 162,479 TEUs.

Cordero said that a variety of factors are jointly affecting international trade, saying tariffs that had been escalating since last year had pushed retailers to order goods early but that the demands were declined due to the warehouses being full.

“In the months leading up to the latest tariff increase on May 10, we saw importers rushing to order goods early as a way to keep costs down. As a result, warehouses quickly filled up with inventory as ocean carriers managed their vessels to deal with the reduced demand we’re seeing now,” he said.

The Los Angeles area boasts the most warehouse space in the United States, 1.8 billion square feet (167.22 million square meters). But the vacancy rate at the end of May was just 1 percent, according to a business insider.

Moreover, Cordero warned that the prolonged trade disputes between the two biggest economies would not only impact the port directly, but also hit Southern California hard.

“China is our largest partner, accounting for 68 percent of containerized imports and 28 percent of containerized exports. So a prolonged trade dispute with our largest trading partner would affect cargo throughput,” he said.

“The Port of Long Beach is a major economic engine for the city, region and country. For example, 575,000 jobs in Southern California are connected to the Port of Long Beach. A prolonged trade dispute could impact those jobs,” he said.

With 175 shipping lines connecting Long Beach to 217 seaports, the port, located 45 km south of downtown Los Angeles, handles 200 billion U.S. dollars in trade annually.

 

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