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Despite ports strike, U.S. cargo volume to rise 3.9% in December

December 10, 2012|By Ricardo Lopez
  • A report released by the National Retail Federation projects that December cargo volume will be up nearly 4% from December 2011. Above, a cargo ship is unloaded at the Port of Los Angeles after an eight-day strike ended.
A report released by the National Retail Federation projects that December… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Despite an eight-day port strike that in effect shut down seaports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, import cargo volume is expected to increase 3.9% in December, according to a retail group. 

A monthly Global Port Tracker report released Monday forecasts that cargo volume this month will rise to 1.27 million 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, up 3.9% from December 2011. (One TEU is the equivalent of a 20-foot cargo container.)

"After a strong kickoff on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday season is looking good and these numbers reflect that,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation, the group that publishes the report.

"We narrowly avoided what could have been a long-term disruption with the strike in Los Angeles and Long Beach," he said in a statement.

The strike by port clerical workers, however, did have a slight effect on estimated cargo volume in November, according to the report. Cargo volume in November, which is a traditionally weak month as most holiday cargo has already arrived, was estimated to be 1.22 million TEU -- down 5.6% from November 2011.

Part of that was caused by the strike, which caused cargo ships to anchor outside the port as they waited for the disruption to end.

The Global Port Tracker, which is produced for the retailing trade group, includes the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and New York.

The group warns that if a strike affects East Coast ports later this year, it could have a bigger impact than the strikes in Southern California. Talks are ongoing between the International Longshoreman’s Assn. and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents cargo carriers and port operators. 

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ricardo.lopez2@latimes.com

Follow Ricardo Lopez on Twitter.

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