Record Import Volumes Contributing to Port Congestion at Los Angeles

The surge in imports through Long Beach Port (Los Angeles) is stretching capacity throughout the Southern California.

The congestion that has plagued the ports of Los Angeles (LA) and Long Beach (LB) in recent months is expected to worsen over the next two weeks owing to what is being called a “record” level of imports, non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOs) and terminal operators have reported.

Productivity at the 12 container terminals in LA-LB is expected to diminish further, chassis shortages will intensify, drayage capacity will be stretched to the limit, and import distribution warehouses throughout Southern California will be even more challenged in moving product to stores and regional distribution facilities throughout the country.

“It’s frustrating. We’ve been highlighting this issue for the last few months,” said David Bennett, president of the Americas at Globe Express Services. “What are the carriers doing about this? What are the terminals doing?”

“There are record volumes coming in,” added Jon Monroe, who serves as a consultant to NVOs. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”


Import volumes have exploded in the past few months as shipments of personal protective equipment, e-commerce fulfillment, inventory replenishment, holiday season, and spring 2021 home improvement merchandise enters through the largest US gateway.

October is usually a peak month in the eastbound trans-Pacific as imports from mainland China come roaring back after a brief lull during the annual Golden Week holiday. However, Monroe noted that this year imports did not dip much during the holiday, and now they have accelerated even more than usual as importers rush to bring shipments into the US in the event tariff exclusions set to expire later this year during the US–mainland China trade war that are not renewed. “They’re not taking any chances,” he said. “Everybody’s fast-forwarding shipments.”

US imports from Asia moving through LA-LB increased 22 percent in both September and August from the same months last year, according to PIERS, a sister of The ports handled 828,880 TEU in September after 832,210 TEU in August.

Horizon International, with our own offices in Los Angeles, are ideally placed to support customers who are being impacted by this escalating situation.

If you are being impacted by the port congestion issues at Los Angeles, please contact our experts who can assist with contingency options.

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