Latest data from the United States' main container ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continue to highlight the trend of 2013, with Long Beach's growth increasing, while throughput at the port of Los Angeles is in decline. BMI attributes this shift to the fact that the port of Long Beach has been quicker at adapting to the trend of mega vessels, as the port has expanded its facilities to be able to cater for larger ships; carriers have thus been able to place vessels of up to 14,000TEU on their transpacific routes calling at Long Beach.
The US West Coast port of Los Angeles has posted a 4.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) decline in October 2013 container throughput to reach 684,207TEUs, while the port of Long Beach reported an 8.7% y-o-y rise in container throughput in the same period to reach 576,502TEUs.
A breakdown of Long Beach's statistics show that imports in October 2013 at the port were up by 7.8% y-o-y to 298,271TEUs, while exports at the port were up 6.0% y-o-y to 141,457TEUs.
|Long Beach Stealing The Show|
|Los Angeles & Long Beach Box Throughput, 2013 year-to-date % chg y-o-y|
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been long-time rivals due to their close proximity, and both ports currently play a key role as maritime gateways for Asian goods into the US on the transpacific trade route. The two West Coast ports based in San Pedro Bay, California, have reacted to the threat of the Panama Canal expansion by investing heavily to ensure that they remain competitive relative to East Coast ports, by expanding to handle larger container ships.
Long Beach, however, has managed to steal a competitive edge over LA by developing its port to handle larger vessels more quickly. In October 2012, Long Beach handled its first 13,798TEU vessel, the MSC Beatrice. Vessels of up to 14,000TEU have now been added on regular services into Long Beach.
Long Beach's ability to handle these mega vessels has had a positive impact on container throughput at the port, but this has been to the detriment of neighbouring LA. In the January-October 2013 period, the port of Long Beach handled a total of 5.58mn TEUs - a 13.2% rise on the same period in 2012. The port of Los Angeles in the same period, on the other hand, registered a 5.4% decline, handling 6.53mn TEUs. We are expecting this trend to continue for the 2013 full year, with BMI forecasting Long Beach's container throughput to rise 13.5% y-o-y to reach 6.86mn TEUs; we are projecting Los Angeles' container throughput to decline by 6.3% y-o-y to reach 7.57mn TEUs.