Friday, April 4, 2014

Growth Projected for Long Beach Port in 2014

By Mark Edward Nero

Container imports at the Port of Long Beach are expected to grow by five to seven percent this year, while exports are projected to increase four to six percent compared to last year, according to a forecast provided during Long Beach’s annual peak season forecast breakfast on March 2.

If the prediction holds up, the growth would be a moderate increase from 2013, when import growth was 2.5 percent and export growth was 2.4 percent.

Walter Kemmsies, chief economist for Long Beach-based engineering company Moffatt & Nichol, said the port has everything working in its favor, with the exception of geo-political problems and the weather, which can’t be predicted.

However, he warned that rising interest rates are expected to increase freight movement volatility.
“Higher inventory costs will increase the demand for speed,” he said.

Kemmsies was one of eight speakers during the event, which was held at the Long Beach Convention Center and attracted between 500 and 600 attendees. The other presenters included: Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners Vice President Rich Dines’ National Industrial Transportation League President & CEO Bruce Carlton; Federal Maritime Commission Chair Mario Cordero; and John Kaiser, the Vice President and General Manager for Intermodal with Union Pacific.

Carlton said one issue on the horizon causing some angst is the upcoming labor negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union. The current six-year pact between the two is scheduled to expire June 30 and negotiations are expected to begin in May.

“They’re watching, they’re nervous,” Carlton said of NITL members. “Everybody knows there will be some theatre.”

The contract affects about 23,000 dockworkers at ports throughout Washington, Oregon and California.