Cargo volumes dropped at Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles in February amid coronavirus concerns

Overall cargo volume dropped at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles last month as concern over the coronavirus continues to take a toll on the shipping industry, according to figures released Tuesday.

The Port of Long Beach, the nation’s second busiest port, moved 538,428 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last month, down 9.8% compared to February 2019. Imports dropped 17.9%, while exports increased 19.3%. Empty containers sent overseas decreased 12.8%.

Officials on Tuesday said the coronavirus has caused further disruption to the supply chain with an increase in canceled sailings and a reduction in cargo.

“With the extended factory closures and slowdown of goods movement in China and other Asian countries in February due to Lunar New Year and COVID-19, we are seeing shipping lines needing to cancel some sailings,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach said in a statement. “Once the virus is contained, we may see a surge of cargo, and our terminals, labor and supply chain will be ready to handle it.”

The Port of Los Angeles moved 544,037 TEUs in February, a 22.9% decrease compared to last year.

“Along with the economic effects of reduced trade due to the health situation, we also have the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Long Beach,” Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal said in a statement. “The port will continue to monitor the outbreak internationally, and work with our stakeholders to keep our crucial link in the supply chain open and operating.”

— City News Service contributed to this report

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].