LA/Long Beach ports move to clear containers


SAN PEDRO, Calif. –The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will begin assessing a surcharge to ocean carriers for import containers that stay too long at marine terminals. The move at the nation’s largest port complex is part of efforts to improve cargo movement amid congestion and record volume.

Under the new policy, which starts Nov. 1, the ports will charge ocean carriers for each container that falls into one of two categories. In the case of containers scheduled to move by truck, ocean carriers will be charged for every container dwelling nine days or more at terminals. For containers moving by rail, ocean carriers will be charged if the container has dwelled for three days or more. The ports will charge ocean carriers with cargo in those two categories $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments per container per day.

“We must expedite the movement of cargo through the ports to work down the number of ships at anchor,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a release. “Approximately 40% of the containers on our terminals today fall into the two categories. If we can clear this idling cargo, we’ll have much more space on our terminals to accept empties, handle exports and improve fluidity for the wide range of cargo owners who utilize our ports.”

“With the escalating backlog of ships off the coast, we must take immediate action to prompt the rapid removal of containers from our marine terminals,” added Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “The terminals are running out of space, and this will make room for the containers sitting on those ships at anchor.”

John Porcari, port envoy to the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, supported the surcharge action and called for more stakeholders in the supply chain to take such steps to alleviate congestion as economic growth, demand and disruption stress the system.

“While we’ve seen new records set in terms of throughput this year at West Coast ports, we need more players throughout the supply chain to keep stepping up,” Porcari said. “The federal government will continue to bring together private companies and stakeholders from across the supply chain and serve as an honest broker helping to surface solutions like this to address supply chain disruptions.”

Before the pandemic-induced import surge began in mid-2020, on average, containers for local delivery sat on container terminals under four days, while containers destined for trains dwelled less than two days. Those numbers have increased significantly, making it difficult to clear cargo off the terminals and bring in ships at anchor.

Fees collected from dwelling cargo will be re-invested by the two ports for programs designed to enhance efficiency, accelerate cargo velocity and address congestion impacts throughout the San Pedro Bay.

The surcharge policy was developed in coordination with the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, U.S. Department of Transportation and multiple supply chain stakeholders.


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