Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Plan to “collaborate” on cargo operations

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor · February 25, 2020

In a move that was much anticipated by industry experts, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have announced that they will “strengthen collaborative measures” in their San Pedro Bay cargo operations.

“America’s two largest and most competitive ports have a long and successful history of collaborating on key issues,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “This agreement significantly expands these efforts and underscores our shared commitment to lead and succeed.”

In his recent 2020 State of the Port address, Seroka, the Executive hinted that such a deal might be driven because “the port is stronger when we act together…because we are all connected.”

He went on to outline many of the challenges and achievements that are occurring within Southern California’s supply chain. In his closing comments he noted that “…we are truly at an inflection point.”

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, observed that the Our two ports are the fastest way to move goods between Asia and U.S. markets and manufacturers.”

“The kind of cooperation that will flow from this agreement ensures we will continue to be the most efficient gateway for shippers,” he added.

The nation’s largest seaport complex will work in concert with industry stakeholders to identify and address operational issues to unlock additional efficiencies and lower costs for shippers while improving sustainability, business continuity and security.

The two neighboring ports that share the San Pedro Bay move 37% of the nation’s containerized imports and 25% of its exports. More than 3 million jobs nationwide are connected to the complex. Meanwhile, the ports continue to face competitive challenges for market share.

The newly approved memorandum of understanding (MOU) is an opportunity to explore five areas of additional cooperation that will enhance competitiveness: cargo transfer predictability, digital connectivity, cybersecurity, establishing metrics and workforce development.

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the MOU on Feb. 20. The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the MOU on Feb. 24. Both votes were unanimous.

The first steps will be for the staffs of the two ports to establish a work plan that will prioritize efforts, create work groups and define objectives for each of the areas outlined in the MOU. These efforts will be done in collaboration with stakeholders from marine terminals, labor, drayage, railroads, shipping lines, cargo owners and more.

The MOU is entered into pursuant to authority granted under Federal Maritime Commission Agreement No. 201219, which permits the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to collaborate on issues such as the environment, supply chain optimization and infrastructure development.

Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, president John McLaurin, notes in the most recent edition of West Coast Trade Report” that San Pedro Bay ports saw their combined percentage of containerized import tonnage slide in December to 26.9% from 30.4% a year earlier.

“The two experienced an equally sharp drop in the declared value of containerized imports to 33.8% from 37.7%,” he said.

February 25, 2020