This was only the third time in Long Beach's history that it surpassed the 7m mark. The previous two years were 2006 and 2007.
In Los Angeles, the largest container port in the US, traffic levels slipped in December when total cargo volumes came to 626,276 teu, a decrease of 4.9% compared with the same period in 2014. December imports dropped 4.5% to 321,407 teu, while exports fell 13.7% 131,239 teu. A cargo terminal was offline for several weeks in December in order to install new software, which was the primary reason for the drop..
“I’m pleased that the Port of Los Angeles has surpassed the 8m teu threshold for the fifth time in our history,” said the port's excecutive, Gene Seroka. “Despite the soft start to the year, our terminals, labour force and supply chain stakeholders rebounded strongly. With bigger ships and the ongoing work to increase supply chain efficiencies, we look forward to building on this momentum in 2016.”
At Long Beach, cargo volume climbed 5.4% in 2015 compared with 2014, as the southern California port and its industry partners transformed the challenges of congestion at the beginning of 2015 into a scene of free-flowing cargo and record-setting months.
The port reported a 5.1% overall growth in December, compared with the same month in 2014. Imports climbed 7% to 296,002 teu in December and exports fell 4.1% to 126,118. Empties rose 9.5% to 174,328 teu during the month.
“We worked diligently over these past 12 months to recover from a very challenging start to the year, resulting in record volume and productivity gains and the strong and steady return of diverted cargo,” said Port of Long Beach chief executive Jon Slangerup.
"We credit terminal operators, labour, shipping lines, cargo owners and our local community with pulling together to turn things around.”
While Long Beach ended 2015 in good shape, Oakland did not recover too well from the waterfront labour impasse last winter.
Oakland’s containerised import volume was essentially unchanged from 2014 with a slight 0.2% decrease year on year. Overall cargo volume in imports, exports and empties decreased 4.9% in 2015.
Maritime director John Driscoll called the result “no small achievement given the way the year started”.
Both ports agree that the strong dollar continues to favour imports and discourage exports, as the dollar's relative value makes American goods more costly overseas, resulting in more empties being sent back overseas to be refilled with goods.
Oakland attributed the year-on-year decline to an 11.5% drop in containerised exports, which was primarily the result of continued strength in the US dollar.