Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Exports jump at L.A., Long Beach ports but imports falter

with one comment

LA Times

This has been covered here fairly recently, but bolsters the argument that the Port expansion for import containers is simply unnecessary.

Woes on the waterfront

Imports have recorded sharp declines at major ports. Figures are for top West Coast ports from January through July, compared with the same period of 2007, for the equivalent of 20-foot cargo containers.

Los Angeles

* Imports: 2.4 million, -5.5%

* Exports: 1.1 million, +23%
* Empties*: 986,000, -24.2%

Long Beach

* Imports: 1.9 million, -12.7%
* Exports: 1.1 million, +23.2%
* Empties*: 849,000, -27.4%.

Oakland

* Imports: 470,000, -5.3%
* Exports: 560,000, +8.8%
* Empties*: 172,000, -26.4%

Tacoma

* Imports: 376,000, -6.5%
* Exports: 304,000, +22.1%
* Empties*: 117,000, -22.1%

Seattle

* Imports: 405,000, -13%
* Exports: 279,000, +1.6%
* Empties*: 91,000, -37.4%

Source: LA Times research

*Empty containers returned overseas

There are some other points worthy of note

the export boom overshadows a deep pullback in U.S. consumer spending.

Imports are down so much that the twin ports are on pace to record their second straight year of declines in overall international trade. That hasn’t happened in at least 30 years, despite a handful of national recessions along the way.

The slowdown has hit almost every harbor in North America.

Of the 10 busiest seaports that are tracked every month by the nation’s largest retailers for signs of congestion, only two are doing more business than last year. One is Vancouver, Canada, which is serving an economy much healthier than that of the U.S. The other is Savannah, Ga., which is winning market share as the first big East Coast stop for cargo headed north from the Panama Canal.

And Savannah will benefit a lot from the widening and deeepening of the new Panama Canal. There is also of course the long running story of Prince Rupert and its link to the US midwest, which involves a key seat in Chicago which straddles a short line called the EJ&E which CN wants to buy and use to avoid the congestion of Chicago’s rail hub, and where Presidential candidate Barack Obama has been making promises. Politicians in the US being concerned about citizen protests on the impact of freight through their neighbourhoods (at least prior to elections). Something not seen in this region.

Note too, as an aside, that Vancouver is not seen as serving the US market!

Written by Stephen Rees

September 2, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Gateway, Transportation

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One Response

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  1. One of the Canadian TV news stations aired a long piece on the EJ&E / CN affair and the locals have made it a ‘bad’ Canadian story. If they force an established railway to stop moving freight, I think ‘free trade’ is dead. Should we stop BN – Santa Fe trains from using the Super Port Railway because they rattle the china in my house? No. When one buys a home near an established railway, then one should expect freight traffic?

    Malcolm J.

    September 3, 2008 at 7:27 am


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