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Ocean cargo imports swinging upward for U.S. West Coast

“The Pacific Coast is bouncing back after decreases of 16.81 percent in 2009 and 10.02 percent in 2008,” noted analysts, who added that every month in 2010 increased over 2009 for TEUs with a monthly average of 15.85 pecent
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
January 12, 2011

More evidence of a rebound for U.S. West Coast ports surfaced today in recent statistical analysis.

Zepol Corporation, a Minneapolis-based trade intelligence company, reports that import shipment volume nationwide for December, measured in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), decreased 9.49 percent from November. And while this is a post-holiday seasonal trend, some of their other numbers are revealing.

For example, total import shipments are up for 2010 by 14.19 percent over 2009, with U.S. West Coast ports showing the greatest throughput increases. Year-to-date, in fact, research reveals that there’s been an bump of 18.8 percent compared to the U.S. East Coast of 13.40 percent and the Gulf Coast of 13.40 percent.

“The Pacific Coast is bouncing back after decreases of 16.81 percent in 2009 and 10.02 percent in 2008,” noted analysts, who added that every month in 2010 increased over 2009 for TEUs with a monthly average of 15.85 pecent.

June represented the largest jump of 27.99 percent.

Zepol’s data is derived from Bills of Lading entered into the Automated Manifest System. This information represents the number of House manifests entered by importers of waterborne containerized goods. This is the earliest indicator for trade data available for the previous month’s import activity. The data excludes shipments from empty containers, excludes shipments labeled as freight remaining on board, and may contain other data anomalies.

Zepol’s findings come on the heels of news reported in LM earlier regarding increased Volumes at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and Port of Long Beach (POLB). Both gateways had solid year-over-year numbers in November.

POLB imports, which are primarily composed of consumer goods, came in at 274,480 TEU that month for a 26.8 percent year-over-year increase. Total POLB shipments—at 558,307 TEU—were up 30.1 percent compared to a year ago.

POLA imports—at 330,710—were up 11.69 from last year and down from October’s 349,545, and exports—at 170,319—were up 14.19 percent and up from October’s 151,048. Total POLA shipments for November—at 666,970—were up 14.95 percent annually but down compared to October’s 682,384 TEU.

Can this trend be sustained? Joel Anderson, president and CEO of International Warehouse Logistics Association thinks so:

“Ultimately the solutions to growing Asian market share for LA/Long Beach are increased velocity, efficiency and courtesy among all partners in the movement of freight,” he said.

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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