Port of Long Beach, California-Water Gateway

Port of Long Beach, California-Water Gateway

The maritime Port of Long Beach was the nation's fourth busiest waterborne freight gateway for international merchandise trade by value of shipments in 2008. It ranked eighth by value among all land, water, and air gateways. In 2008, merchandise trade passing through the Port of Long Beach ($92 billion) accounted for 6 percent of the value of the total U.S. international waterborne trade. These freight shipments represented nearly 7 percent of the value of U.S. waterborne exports and 5 percent of imports. The port is a major gateway for imports, with inbound shipments accounting for 65 percent of the value of the freight it handled in 2008 (table 1).

By weight, the facility ranked ninth among all U.S. water gateways in 2008, handling 48 million tons of freight, or 3 percent of total U.S. international waterborne freight tonnage. Long Beach has long been a significant gateway for both imports and exports. Outbound freight shipments (26 million tons) accounted for 54 percent of the weight of the cargo it handled in 2008 (table 1). This export figure is a striking reversal from 2003, when inbound shipments accounted for 72 percent of the tonnage handled by the port.1

Although Long Beach handles noncontainerized bulk cargo, it is primarily a container port. In 2008, the port handled about 4.6 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) carrying international imports and exports (table 1). This cargo accounted for 16 percent of the containerized TEUs handled at the nation's seaports. About 68 percent of the port's containerized cargo was inbound.

In 2007, China was the port's leading origin country for imports by weight of shipments, followed by Iraq and Ecuador (table 2).2 China was the leading destination for exports from Long Beach, followed by Japan and South Korea. The leading seaports for cargo arriving at and leaving Long Beach were Yantian, China, and Kao Hsiung, Taiwan, respectively (table 3).

More than 3,300 vessels called at the Port of Long Beach in 2007. Container vessels made the most calls at the port, accounting for 45 percent of the vessel calls. About 31 percent of the calls were by tankers.

In 2007, the top imports were petroleum, electronics, plastics, furniture, and clothing. The top exports were petroleum and petroleum coke, waste paper, chemicals, scrap metal, and plastics.3

1 U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, America's Freight Transportation Gateways: Connecting Our Nation to Places and Markets Abroad (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2004).

2 Data for 2008 are not available for weight and vessels calls. Data in tables 2, 3, and 4 are from 2007.

3 Port of Long Beach website, www.polb.com/about/facts.asp as of Aug. 10, 2009.