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Port Of LA On Track To Break Pre-Pandemic Record For Cargo Volume

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Port of Los Angeles became a foil this year for the historic bottleneck that contributed to the global supply chain crisis, but that's likely because port operations are on track to break a new record for cargo in 2021.

Cargo Backlogs Continue Easing At California Ports
SAN PEDRO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 02: Shipping containers are stacked on the President Kennedy container ship at the Port of Los Angeles on December 2, 2021 in San Pedro, California. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have delayed a plan for a fourth time to charge shippers fees for container storage as a backlog of aging cargo at the ports has decreased 37 percent since last month. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

With just two weeks left in the year, Port of Los Angeles officials anticipates its final volume will be about 10.7 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units, the shipping containers also known as TEUs – about 13% more than the previous record set in 2018, before the pandemic even struck.

"While there is much more that we need to improve upon, we're delivering record amounts of cargo and goods are making their way into the hands of consumers and manufacturers," Gene Seroka, the Port of LA's executive director, said in a statement.

November cargo volume actually dipped 8.8% compared to last year, and half of the 86 shipping containers that arrived carried less than 5,300 TEU capacity, port officials said. Imports were also down that month about 13.2% compared to 2020. But overall, 2021 imports are on track for an all-time record of about 5.5 million TEUs, 13% higher than the 2018 import record, according to the Port of LA.

However, the port's loaded exports dropped 36.8% compared to 2020, continuing a trend. Port officials say exports have declined 33 of the last 37 months.

The port is also seeing very high demand for empty containers out of Asia. Experts say a shortage of empty containers, which were up 10.6% at the Port of LA compared to last year, is a contributing factor to global shipping delays. The Port of LA says they have processed 9.9 million TEUs in 2021, which is 18.7% more than the same time last year.

"Moving into 2022, we'll continue our focus on efficiency improvements, job creation and economic development," Seroka said.

The supply chain crisis has prompted the twin ports of LA and Long Beach to take unprecedented measures, such as ramping up to round-the-clock operations and announcing a fee for cargo that lingers too long on the docks. However, the fee seems to have lit a fire under shipping companies, and port officials have postponed the fee several times because they have seen a decline of 46% in aging cargo on the docks.

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