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Importers Look East

Importers are looking increasingly to ports on the East Coast of the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

The shift: In the past, ports in California were the destination for many industries seeking to bring goods into the United States from abroad. Long Beach and Los Angeles, in particular, served as the gateway to the U.S. But in recent years, traffic has begun to move away from the West Coast and toward ports in New York and New Jersey, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina.

  • “In August, Los Angeles lost its title as busiest port in the nation to the Port of New York and New Jersey as measured by the number of imported containers. It trailed its East Coast rival again in that measure during September and October, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and ports data.”

Why it’s happening: A range of ongoing issues has fueled a gradual shift away from California and toward ports in the East and South.

  • “Their reasons range from fears of a dockworkers strike along the West Coast and a repeat of the bottlenecks that roiled supply chains early in the pandemic to a reduced dependence on Chinese production and the need to get products to all parts of the country faster.”

The impact: Railroads and logistics companies are following the new traffic, adding warehouses and transportation services in the Southeast to help move goods from newly inundated ports.

  • Supply chains are also becoming more flexible; by shifting some goods to other ports around the country, companies reduce the risk that a slowdown or stoppage at one port in California could upend their processes.
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