Containerized imports from Asia have fallen by 21% year over year through August.
The Port of Los Angeles saw cargo volumes increase 3% year over year in August.
Cargo volumes at the Port of Oakland fell 15% year over year.
Blank sailings on the trans-Atlantic are expected to slow in October.
Trans-Pacific spot rates have fallen double digits in the last month.
U.S. Ports Report Import Declines, But Optimism Is Rising
According to data from PIERS via reporting in the Journal of Commerce, the largest ports on both the West and East Coasts have recorded declines of more than 20% of imports from Asia in that timeframe, while Gulf Coast imports dropped 3.7%.
But the National Retail Federation believes that October will be a slight bounce-back month, estimating a 0.1% rise that month, before jumping a predicated 10.4% in November and 12% in December, mostly due to the holiday season and the end of the contentious contract dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.
“As the holidays approach, the recent ratification of the West Coast port labor agreement between the ILWU and PMA provides supply chain stability and certainty for retailers utilizing West Coast ports,” Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, said in a early September Global Port Tracker Report.
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Port Of Los Angeles Sees Post-Contract Dispute Cargo Volume Bump
FMC commissioner Carl Bentzel had several public meetings with industry leaders and experts including Amazon and FedEx.
The questions are aimed at transportation service providers and shippers. Responses are due on Oct. 16.
“Make no mistake, supply chain congestion is a constant and continuing inefficiency,” Bentzel said in a statement. “Recent pandemic-related congestion costs our nation trillions of dollars in lost economic opportunity and higher prices, but only highlighted what is in fact an ongoing problem. The recommendations proposed in the MTDI seek to ameliorate what is a system inadequate for providing supply chain transportation. Further public input will help refine what was issued earlier this year.”
Cargo Volumes Drop At Port Of Oakland In August
Port of Oakland Director of Communications Robert Bernardo told Supply Chain Dive that shippers are struggling to find the right amount of shipments to meet demand.
“This trend began in late 2021 and it appears that shippers still have not found the appropriate level of new shipments to match current demand,” Bernardo stated. “Exports continue to dip. We are optimistic that agricultural exports will pick up.”
But, Bernardo also stated that, on a positive note, the port is seeing a growth in vessel calls this year, which has led to less congestion.
Trans Atlantic Blank Sailings Expected To Slow In October
Carriers are expected to blank 2.8% of available capacity in October, compared to 8% in September.
With the uneven supply and demand in the market, carriers are trying to develop a strategy with blank sailings to strike the right balance, but the volatility worries some cargo owners.
During a Journal of Commerce webcast on the trans-Atlantic market, Jochen Gutschmidt, senior advisor for inland supply chain and logistics at Lidl, spoke about working to achieve stability.
“Shippers want stability, predictability and on-time services,” Gutschmidt said. “We dislike disruptions wholeheartedly. Whether it is blank sailings or phasing out other ships, it impacts our ability to conduct our business as we want to.”
Trans-Pacific Spot Rates Continue To Slide
According to a Freightos Baltic Daily Index assessment, the Asia-North America West Coast lane has fallen 16%, which is concerning for some who were hoping for a comprehensive peak season boost after a rebound in July and August.
The Asia-Europe route is struggling as well, dropping 34% since hitting a peak on Aug. 17, according to Drewry World Container Index data.
In a September post, Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, said that the spot rate is at a several-year low.
“For North Europe, we have not seen the spot rate this low since early 2018, when the level was lower for a brief two weeks,” Jensen said. “To see a more sustained period of spot rates this low or lower, we have to go back to the depths of the price war in late 2015 and early 2016.”