28 Nov Rush to beat tariff hikes sees LA port setting tonnage record in Oct
THE Port of Los Angeles handled more tonnage in October than in any month in its 111-year history, brought about by seasonal demand, stable US economic activity, and a potentially significant acceleration in import tonnage ahead of the Trump administration’s threatened January 1 tariff increases on Chinese imports.
The nation’s busiest seaport processed more than 952,500 TEU last month, a 27.2 per cent surge over October 2017 totals. The prior monthly record was set last November with 924,225 TEU, reports FreightWaves of New York.
Import traffic last month rose 26.7 per cent to 485,824 TEU. Exports rose 20 per cent to 173,824 TEU. Empty containers, boxes that normally sail back empty to Asia for subsequent cargo stuffing, rose 25 per cent to 292,906 TEU, the port said.
The October volumes were materially stronger than the solid numbers originally expected, according to Todd Fowler, analyst for Key Bank Capital Markets.
The key variable was the level of inventory “pull-forward” as US companies scramble to lock in purchases from China ahead of the expected tariffs and tariff hikes.
The advance ordering, combined with the economic impact of the tariffs themselves, may hamper the port’s first-quarter results, said Phillip Sanfield, a port spokesman. For its part, the port does not know how the fourth-quarter numbers will shake out. However, Mr Fowler said port officials agreed that pull-forwards will account for volumes that are above its normal seasonal levels.