US Ports: Battling for Cargo

Credits: Alex Duffy/Unsplash

While US West Coast ports have welcomed a tentative labour agreement, US East Coast ports are trying to capture cargo through their gateways, reports Riviera Maritime Media.

US West Coast ports have welcomed a labour agreement in what was described as a “monumental day” by the Port of Oakland.

Cargo movements amid labour negotiations 

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced a tentative agreement on a six-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports in June this year.

Negotiations between the ILWU and PMA began in May 2022 regarding the contract, which expired two months later.

Port of Long Beach (PoLB) executive director Mario Cordero says, “With no labour strife, there will be much less disruption. We now have shipper confidence, but even throughout negotiations, cargo was moving through the port. We are thankful that when they first started negotiating, they committed to no slow down or strikes, so speaking for Long Beach, we did not have disrupted cargo movements.”

Nevertheless, some cargo that used to go via the US West Coast has moved to other port gateways in the US, with reasons including nervousness about the labour negotiations. When asked about this, Mr Cordero says, “We are hoping to win back some of this cargo. The American shipper has choices now, unlike 10 or 20 years ago, when a lot of people talked about the West Coast share of Asia trade. But other gateways in the US have improved their infrastructure, so we on the West Coast have experienced incremental loss of discretionary cargo but I don’t believe it will be anything significant. We [Long Beach] will continue be part of the US’ largest containerised gateway.”

Reduced cargo volumes

After seeing reduced cargo volumes at the beginning of the year, PoLB saw an uptick in volumes in April and a 15% increase in May – the best month since August 2022. Mr Cordero comments, “America’s economy is very resilient, and consumers continue to spend… in 2022 and 2021 we had unprecedented growth, now we are back to normality.”

Elsewhere, five California seaports – ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Hueneme and San Diego – have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) launching the California Port Data Partnership.

The MoU outlines an agreement among the five ports to jointly advance computerised and cloud-based data interoperability with a common goal of supporting improved freight system resilience, goods movement efficiency, emissions reduction and economic competitiveness.

Mr Cordero comments, “Every sector in our industry is moving forward with data sharing technology, they all have their own portals and platforms, so to have one portal that everybody uses is a great vision… you can integrate into the system with your own platform.”

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Source: Riviera Maritime Media


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