Ports & Waterways

2021 was record year for LA port despite supply chain woes

Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Despite supply chain problems and ship traffic backups, Los Angeles’s port — the busiest in the country — is set to hit a record for volume of cargo.

“The sustained and unmatched demand by the American consumer is pushing our import numbers to new levels,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said during an online briefing, per The Associated Press. “We’re on track for an all-time import record in … 2021.”

He added that the port expected to import about 5.5 million container units of cargo in 2021, which marks a 13 percent increase over the previous record set in 2018, the AP reported.

“Even with the strains on the supply chain, we continue to deliver record amounts of cargo,” Seroka also said. 

The executive director told the AP that over 70,000 empty import containers lingering on docks presented another challenge in moving cargo quickly. 

He added that port officials have urged shipping companies to clear the backlog, and that there has been a 56 percent decrease in containers remaining on the docks for nine days or more since officials threatened financial penalties for companies who leave containers there for extended periods, the AP reported.

In October, President Biden announced a plan to expand service at the Los Angeles port to 24 hours a day, seven days a week in an effort to ease supply chain problems.

“We should recognize that it takes effort to ramp up to 24/7 operations. But what we have with this announcement is a very strong signal to the rest of the goods movement chain that these ports are open for business, they’ll operate around the clock. It’s time for the rest of the goods chain to do that,” Seroka said at the time.

Only one of seven container terminals has met that goal, however, given the difficulty of coordinating warehouse space, truck transportation and other details along the supply chain during overnight hours, according to the AP. 

Tags Joe Biden Port of Los Angeles Shipping Supply chain

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