The headline makes you think that things are worse. However, in one way they’re better. Apparently ocean carriers are making a concerted effort to move empty containers out of LA and Long Beach Ports. And that will make a big difference in yard space at terminals.
Figures show that from late October and January 27, there have been 27 sweeper voyages from LA, carrying 68,000 empty containers to Asia, and 29 from Long Beach, carrying 76,000 empties. It sounds like a lot.
Ocean carriers certainly want to avoid the proposed fees at these two ports for letting empties sit in a yard. At times recently around 45% of the containers in the yards at LA and Long Beach have been empties.
However, when you consider that there are more than 600,000 containers per month coming into LA and Long Beach, the number removed does not seem that high— less than 23,000 per month on average from LA and 24,000 per month from Long Beach. It seems that more work is needed. And more jawboning.
And it’s important to also encourage exports using those containers. We don’t want empties being scarfed up when they could be used for exported products, say agricultural products, which are plentiful in California. The effort to create a port-based empty container filling station for ag products on the West Coast could help, but most ag products sail bulk to the Far East.
But I think more pressure on ocean carriers and others is still necessary.
By Ian Putzger, Americas correspondent 07/02/2022Today on the transpacific: continued congestion and more blanked sailings – The Loadstar