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Port of Los Angeles LA-LB ports confident to stem import share bleed


THE ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are hoping that a US$6.6 billion investment and more dynamic operations fuelled by technology will stem the bleeding of import market share ?down to just shy of 37 per cent ?to East Coast ports that are targeting even more Midwest cargo via stronger intermodal rail connections.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach share of containerised imports has declined steadily from 39 per cent in 2013 to 36.6 per cent through November this year, according to data from PIERS, part of IHS Media. The decline was accelerated by the coastwide labour disruptions and resulting port congestion during the 2014 and 2015 longshore contract negotiations.

"The year-over-year losses, we got that back. Now we have to build on that momentum," Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said.

Los Angeles-Long Beach is building upon its superior port and inland transportation infrastructure to regain market share in the coming years when bigger ships operated by more powerful alliances stoke competition among ports on both coasts.

With harbour depths well in excess of 50 feet and a transcontinental rail network that serves all of the major population centres in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast, Southern California is already positioned to handle the largest vessels and most extensive intermodal rail services of any US port, he said.

The largest US port complex is also a leader in process improvements that include trucker appointment systems, gate technology that gives truckers real-time visibility into conditions at the marine terminals, as well as container dray-offs and peel-off piles to improve gate fluidity. Those innovations are designed to optimise the efficiency of handling vessels with capacities up to 18,000 TEU.

In order to remain the preferred gateway for beneficial cargo owners and vessel-sharing alliances, Los Angeles-Long Beach must work harder than ever to convince beneficial cargo owners the labour issues and port congestion of 2014 to 2015 will not be repeated.

The port complex through November is up 5.7 per cent from the first 11 months of 2015, handling 14.3 million TEU, about two and one-half times the second largest US port, New York-New Jersey, and five to seven times the volume of other ports, according to container statistics released by the ports.

The eastern ports are moving aggressively to further increase their market share with the completion of the Panama Canal expansion project in June, but their ability to do so will depend upon which ports are better able to handle the big ships and growing clout of the ocean carrier alliances that will take shape in the coming year, said Noel Hacegaba, chief commercial officer at the Port of Long Beach.

Competition for market share in the lucrative trade with Asia is not confined to East Coast ports attempting to attract discretionary cargo from the West Coast. Similar competition is taking place among south Atlantic ports in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

Source: Schednet 

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