What is happening: The trade war between the US and China has led to near-record breaking import volumes, but a rising rate of empty containers.
Import: West Coast ports have reaped the rewards of the trade war in terms of imports. As businesses rushed to beat tariffs, partnered with a strong holiday season, West Coast ports reached near-record breaking numbers. The Port of Oakland enjoyed its busiest November in history in terms of imports.
Exports: However, the trade war is having the opposite affect on exports. Empty containers at the Port of Long Beach went up by 11.4% year on year in November. The Port of Oakland saw their empty exports more than double.
Future: Although the ports are cautiously optimistic for 2019, their two main driving forces will surely soon fade away. The holiday season will end, and after the 90-day cease fire on the trade war, there will be changes there too.
What did Port of Long Beach Executive Director, Mario Cordero say: “You’re seeing the opposite effect on the other side of the ocean. Chinese businesses seem to be already looking to other countries for goods and raw materials, meaning there’s less demand for American exports and more empty containers are being shipped.”