Friday, April 5, 2019

Long Beach Pulse of the Ports

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Long Beach recently hosted its 15th annual Pulse of the Ports Peak Season Forecast, gathering industry experts and stakeholders for an outlook on trade for this year.

Among those on the panel was Melissa Peralta, senior economist and forecaster for TTX, a Chicago-based railcar pooling firm.

She spoke of a projected 1.8 percent increase in North American imports this year, slower than last year’s 6.1 percent growth in US imports in 2018, according to the port.

This slowdown in growth comes as retailers moved quickly to ship goods ahead of a tariff increase that was expected to start in late 2018 and early this year but never happened, she said.

She said a slowing US economy and the effects of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may affect imports later in this year, and added that the US economy overall will grow 2.7 percent this year, according to the port. “Economic fundamentals should continue to be supportive into 2019, albeit at a moderating pace,” Peralta said. “But imports may struggle to keep pace with overall economic growth due to an overhang of freight delivered in late 2018.”

Even though East Coast ports have seen an increase in Asian imports in the last 10 years, West Coast ports may see that business return when the International Maritime Organization enacts on Jan. 1 that container vessels must lower the sulfur content in their fuel from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent, she said.

For a recap of the event, visit