After months of steady numbers following an increase of tariffs between the United States and China, cargo amounts at Californian ports have begun to fall.
East coast ports had lower numbers within a month of the tariffs being implemented, but West coast ports managed to keep a balanced mount of cargo until recently thanks to other countries in Asia having a slight increase of trade with the U.S.
However, following a small step down in September, October proceeded to be the worst month in receiving cargo in years. At the Port of Los Angeles, the amount of import and export cargo went down 19.1% to 770,189 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The amount of ships docking in the port also fell by 25%.
“With 25% fewer ship calls, 12 consecutive months of declining exports and now decreasing imports, we’re beginning to feel the far-reaching effects of the U.S.-China trade war on American exporters and manufacturers,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a statement Thursday. “We expect soft volumes in the months ahead and with the holiday season upon us, less cargo means fewer jobs for American workers. We need a negotiated settlement and the tariffs lifted.”
The Port of Oakland also showed shaky numbers. Despite a small increase in cargo numbers, the number of ships docking in the past few months has gone down 13%.
Tonya, an Oakland dockworker, told the Globe that the main reason behind the drastic decreases have been because of the Trump Administration and China adding on tariffs in the current trade war.
“It’s definitely worse at other ports across the country,” noted Tonya. “But we’re feeling it too. We got warnings that this would happen, and sure enough, they’ve been happening.
Right now, in Oakland, not many people are seeing less hours. But down in LA it’s been happening. Same in Long Beach and San Diego for sure.
And when we see less work, ports see less money coming in. Less good come in. Prices go up. That’s what’s been happening, and if it continues, we’re going to be hurt.
And this is the busy season for us. After Christmas, when cargo always goes down, every port is going to see the amount of cargo just drop. We have until then for this trade war to stop before all of these workers, including me, really feels it.”
Cargo numbers for November are expected to go up because of the amount of Christmas-related cargo. Final numbers for all ports in California are expected soon.