Port of Los Angeles officials announced Thursday that despite an ongoing trade war with China, the shipyard moved a near-record amount of cargo in 2019.
Plans for the port this year were outlined at Thursday’s annual State of the Port.
A total of 9,337,632 20-foot equivalent units were moved last year, just short of the second-best year in the port’s 113-year history, announced Port Executive Director Gene Seroka.
“In the face of lagging exports due to international trade tensions and tariff uncertainties, the Port of Los Angeles has maintained strong momentum and kept cargo flowing,” Seroka said. “This feat was only possible because of the extensive cooperation and continued efficiency improvements by our terminal operators, supply chain partners and longshore workforce.”
In November, Seroka said the trade war with China and increasing tariffs would be devastating to the port’s workforce. China accounts for 54% of imports and 29% of U.S. exports moving through the San Pedro Bay ports, based on value.
An initial trade agreement was forged between the U.S. and China on Wednesday, which includes an agreement for China to more than double its purchases from American farmers in the first year, according to CNN, but most tariffs on goods have remained in place.
Seroka announced the planned launch of the nation’s first Terminal Efficiency Incentive Program, which would use a truck reservation system to make improvements in truck turn times and create an incentive reward program for companies that report faster times.
“Depending on the percentage a terminal can reduce truck turn times, they will be monetarily rewarded on each container unit,” Seroka said. “The higher the percentage of reduction, the bigger the reward.”
In 2020, the port expects to continue to explore locations for off-dock chassis yards, and is working with its partners to relieve terminal congestion and improve overall chassis use, port officials said.
Seroka also announced the launch of the Port of Los Angeles Labor Collaborative, a workforce development initiative intended to identify employment and training needs. Another initiative will kick off next week with distribution of a port stakeholder survey to assess current and future training and technical needs.
Officials said technology infrastructure was a key point at the State of the Port address, as it is working to accelerate a digital transformation of its supply chain by creating a port community system to connect critical cargo data points.
In the coming week, pending approval by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, port officials said they anticipate announcing the selection of a partner for the design and construction of a new Cyber Resilience Center. The center will serve as a neighborhood cyber-watch system to protect data flowing through the port community.
Seroka said the port also needs to make progress on implementing its Clean Air Action Plan and to implement zero-emission technology within the next year.
Port officials said they are testing 78 zero-emission drayage trucks and 74 zero-emission yard tractors and is working with partners to test eight new zero-emission top handlers in the coming year. On tap for 2020 will be additional demonstration projects, including a new large-scale, zero-emission drayage truck testing of a fleet of 50 to 100 trucks.