California – On Friday the port of Los Angeles reported its best month since 2006, with nearly 786,680 containers moving through the port on August meaning a traffic rise of 3.8 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

The volume of imported containers increased 6.3% on August in comparison to 2014, to more than 407,800 twenty-foot units (TEUs). Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach imported 358,262 TEUs, an increase of 19.1% over last year. Combined, the two ports are the largest entry point for container cargo to the U.S., with a vast majority coming from Asia. This is a good reason to believe that Southern California traffic is returning to normal patterns and that importers are returning.

Los Angeles Port. Credit: Reuters.

“The numbers are strong indicators that our terminal operators, longshore labor and supply chain partners are adjusting to the new industry dynamics of carrier alliances, deploying larger ships and delivering higher container volumes per call” said Gene Seroka, Los Angeles port’s executive director.

Through the first months of the year, container volume was low on a 2.5% compared to last year’s period. Just 5.4 million containers have traveled so far through the port in 2015, compared to about 5.5 million a year ago.  But the reason both ports saw slowing numbers may have been due to the lack of available trailers that made shippers divert their ships to other ports to escape congestion.

The last two months volume shows that customer’s confidence in the port’s ability to move cargo has returned, but they also may be a direct consequence of a strengthening of the U.S. dollar and the circumstances associated with holiday season when retailers order a higher amount of goods. August is usually a strong month in Southern California as early shipments for the holiday shopping season combine with the remaining back-to-school shipments to produce a spike in cargo.

“Our partners once again have expressed their confidence in the Port of Long Beach and we thank them for their business […] We have been working with all our stakeholders and the results are our best month ever” said the port’s Chief Executive, Jon Slangerup.


Next months can bring an ever greater number of imports with the arrival of goods from China coming from its recently devalued coin. Since China cut the yuan’s value last month, items produced in Chinese factories are now cheaper for foreign buyers. However orders made after the devaluation would only start showing up at West Coast ports in early September after the three-week ocean trip from China to the U.S. Now that the dollar has increased buying power in China. that should lead to surging traffic at major ports according to analysts.

The National Retail Federation expects September’s import cargo volume to increase 1.2% nationwide over last year and that overall 2015 imports to be up 5.4% over 2014, according to a report the groups released jointly on Wednesday.


Officials note that the number of imports still remains “stubbornly” higher than the export volume at the same time Los Angeles and Long Beach saw empty export containers kick up to more than 450,000 in August. This may be due in part to the lack of export demand from abroad.

Paul Bingham, an economist with the Economic Development Research Group Inc., said the decline is likely driven both by slower growth both in China and among China’s trading partners in Europe and other parts of Asia.

“There’s a lot of weakness in terms of end-consumer markets,” he said.

Source: The Port of Los Angeles