August Records at Busiest U.S. Port Mask Decline in Exports
August may have been a record month on many fronts for the port of Los Angeles as volumes recover from the initial shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the long-term trends at the U.S.’s busiest container hub show the nation’s trade imbalances have deepened, its executive director said.
Both the number of containers arriving at the port and total cargo handled climbed to records last month as retailers replenish stocks that were depleted during the height of the pandemic and prepare for the December holiday period, the port said this week. Comparing January to August with the same period a year earlier, however, volumes are down almost 12%, with imports dropping 7.9%, while exports have declined 17%.
“Our economy remains in a very precarious position,” said port Executive Director Gene Seroka. American exports continue to struggle while imports surge, which “hurt round-trip economics,” he said.
His comments are borne out by data that show the U.S.’s deficit in merchandise trade swelled to the second-largest on record in July as imports climbed to pre-pandemic levels, buoyed by demand for automotives.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.