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Friday, December 16, 2016

POLB Monthly Container Volumes Drop Steeply

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach says shifting alliance routes and the Hanjin bankruptcy continued to affect its container volumes last month, resulting in container traffic being 13.8 percent lower than during the same month last year.

A total of 534,308 TEUs moved through the harbor last month. Of that amount, 270,610 were imports, which was a drop of 11.8 percent from November 2015’s imports. Exports declined 3.1 percent to 120,897 TEUs last month, while empty TEUs numbered 142,801, 24.2 percent off.

Through the first 11 months of 2016, Long Beach has moved 6.22 million TEUs, which is 5.6 percent behind the same point last year and far behind the adjoining Port of Los Angeles’ 8.0 million TEUs during the same 11-month time period.

The late-2016 numbers are a sharp contrast from when the port experienced its second-best November ever in 2015. Last November was part of a six-month run of gains, at the end of which Long Beach ended the year above seven million TEUs for only the third time in its history.

This year, however, the port has faced challenges as ocean carriers have merged, reorganized into new alliances and realigned routes. Additionally, a major customer, Hanjin Shipping, declared bankruptcy at the end of August.

Hanjin represented 12.3 percent of Long Beach’s containerized volume and held a 54 percent stake in Total Terminals International, the operator of Pier T, one of the port’s largest, most modern terminals.

Despite the declines, however, Long Beach remains the second-busiest North American seaport, behind the Port of LA. The latest monthly Long Beach cargo numbers and more detailed cargo numbers are available at www.polb.com/stats.