Cargo volume got off to a flat start in the first month of 2014 at the Port of Long Beach, with overall traffic dipping 1.4 percent to 528,884 container units in January compared to the same month last year, according to newly-released data.
Imports were up two percent, to 279,415 TEUs during the month, while exports fell 3.4 percent to 122,411 TEUs. The number of empty containers exported and imported dropped 6.3 percent to 127,058 TEUs.
Movement of exports and empties are typically slow at Long Beach ahead of the Lunar New Year, which this year was Jan. 31, because much of China and other countries in East Asia shut down for two weeks for the holiday.
However, the adjoining Port of Los Angeles reported last week that in January its overall volumes increased to 685,550 TEUs, a nearly 2.5 percent rise compared to January 2013. LA attributed the increase in part to shippers moving cargo in advance of the Chinese New Year.
Port of Long Beach officials contend that although January was slightly down compared to the same month last year, 2014 is expected to be busier than 2013, which was the third-busiest year in port history with a total of 6.73 million TEUs.
For the fiscal year to date, Long Beach’s cargo traffic is up 3.4 percent to 2.18 million TEUs. The POLB’s current fiscal year began Oct. 1.
“We expect to be back to peak cargo levels at the Port of Long Beach by 2015 or 2016,” Noel Hacegaba, the port’s acting deputy executive director and chief operating officer, said.
The port’s latest monthly cargo numbers can be seen at http://www.polb.com/economics/stats/latest_teus.asp. More details on the cargo numbers can be seen at www.polb.com/stats.