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Cargo Crunch Prompts New Hours at LA Ports

After consulting with multiple supply chain stakeholders and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles announced new measures to improve freight movement and reduce delays as the facilities continue to experience record volumes.

The ports said these measures will enhance their landside operations to help meet the unprecedented growth in cargo volume moving through the San Pedro Bay. Specifically, the twin ports will expand the hours during which trucks can pick up and return containers.

Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, announced that Long Beach will take the first step towards a 24/7 supply chain by maximizing nighttime operations. Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka announced that the Port of Los Angeles will expand weekend operating gate hours.

Dubbed “Accelerate Cargo LA,” the Port of Los Angeles’ program will operate on a pilot basis to ensure that gate availability meets cargo demands and provides greater transparency to improve efficiency. In addition, both ports have called on marine terminal operators to incentivize the use of all available gate hours, especially night gates, to reduce congestion and maximize cargo throughput capacity.

“We appreciate the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration in marshaling a response to the unprecedented global supply chain disruption so acutely felt here at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex,” Seroka said. “These steps, in addition to what has previously been recommended, demonstrate that the Port of Los Angeles will continue to innovate in order to manage this historic cargo surge.”

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Cordero said the Port of Long Beach is prepared to take “bold and immediate action to help the supply chain move the record cargo volumes that keep our economy moving, and we appreciate the support and leadership shown by the Biden-Harris Administration.”

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will work closely with the trucking community to ensure that all truck operators understand how to take advantage of incentivized gate hours, as well as the expanded opportunities that will be created to move cargo during non-peak times. In addition, the ports urged terminals and the trucking community to consider other corrective measures.

“I thank directors Cordero and Seroka for their leadership and all of the men and women who have helped meet the challenge of moving extraordinary cargo volumes during a global pandemic,” said John Porcari, the ports envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Task Force on Supply Chain Disruptions. “I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to strengthen the resiliency of our transportation supply chain.”

The ports noted that approximately 70 percent by tonnage of all U.S.-international trade moves by water through the nation’s ports. The San Pedro Bay ports move approximately 40 percent of all containerized cargo entering the U.S. each year and about 30 percent of all containerized exports.

In addition to actions taken today, the ports are working closely with the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to alleviate bottlenecks and speed up the movement of goods to consumers, while expanding export opportunities for U.S. exporters, including agricultural producers.

The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are the two largest ports in the nation, first and second respectively, and combined are the ninth-largest port complex in the world. Trade that flows through the San Pedro Bay ports complex generates more than 3 million jobs nationwide.

Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), sent a letter to President Biden administration officials calling for “action now to end and provide relief from the shipping crisis.”

Lamar lauded the creation of the task force and said AAFA welcomes “your executive order that urges the Federal Maritime Commission to “vigorously enforce the prohibition of unjust and unreasonable practices.” He also urged the administration to “consider further rulemaking to improve detention and demurrage practices and enforcement of related Shipping Act prohibitions,” but added that more needs to be done “to help provide relief from, the acute shipping crisis that is now impacting all parts of our economy.”

“Your administration can provide immediate relief by offsetting out of control freight cost increases by removing the temporary tariff costs, such as the U.S. government’s punitive Section 301 tariffs on China, our industry still must pay,” Lamar added. “Supporting quick action by Congress to retroactively renew the Generalized System of Preferences program and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill will also mean immediate relief for job creators in our industry.”