Port of Los Angeles, California-Water Gateway

Port of Los Angeles, California-Water Gateway

The maritime Port of Los Angeles was the nation's busiest waterborne freight gateway for international merchandise trade by value of shipments in 2008. It was also the top gateway by value among all land, water, and air gateways. In 2008, merchandise trade moving in and out of the Port of Los Angeles ($244 billion) accounted for 15 percent of the value of the total U.S. international waterborne trade. These freight shipments represented more than 7 percent of U.S. waterborne exports and 18 percent of waterborne imports (table 1).

By value, Los Angeles was a major gateway for imports, with inbound shipments accounting for 86 percent of the value of the freight it handled in 2008. By comparison, imports nationwide accounted for 71 percent of the value of total U.S. international waterborne trade (table 1).

By weight, the facility ranked fourth among all U.S. water gateways in 2008, handling 75 million tons of freight, or 5 percent of total U.S. international waterborne freight tonnage (table 1). Although Los Angeles is a significant gateway for both imports and exports, inbound freight shipments accounted for more than 70 percent of the tonnage handled in 2008.

Los Angeles is primarily a port for ships transporting containers-large, portable, reusable metal boxes that typically carry high-value cargo-which explains why this port ranked first by value and fourth by weight. In 2008, the port handled 5.6 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) carrying international imports and exports (table 1). This cargo accounted for 20 percent of the containerized TEUs handled at the nation's seaports. About 72 percent of the port's containerized cargo was inbound. The top containerized imports were furniture, apparel, electronic products, toys, and computer equipment. The top containerized exports were paper products, synthetic resins, fabric, animal feed, and scrap metal.1 By weight of shipments, China was the port's leading origin country for imports in 2007, followed by Taiwan and South Korea.2 China was also the leading destination for exports from Los Angeles, followed by Taiwan and Japan (table 2).3 The leading seaports for cargo arriving at and leaving Los Angeles were Shanghai, China, and Kao Hsiung, Taiwan, respectively (table 3).

There were 2,190 vessels calls at the Port of Los Angeles in 2007. Container vessels made the most calls at the port, accounting for 72 percent. About 14 percent of the calls were by tankers (table 4).

1 Port of Los Angeles website, www.portoflosangeles.org/newsroom/press_kit/growth.asp as of Aug. 10, 2009.

2 For official merchandise trade statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau reports Hong Kong and Taiwan separately. In this report, "China" refers to mainland China.

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