Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports delay excess new container dwell fees until Nov. 29

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The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have postponed new surcharges for overdue containers for a second time, saying shipping lines and shippers have worked to reduce the number of containers at ports by a third. So the new charges will not be implemented before November 29, port authorities said on Monday.

There is a fee of USD 100/day for imported cargo containers that sit at yards for nine days or more for trucking and stay at yards for six days or more for rail shipments. The surcharge was originally set to go into effect on November 15 as a way to tackle the mass of shipping lines clogging ports. The new surcharge increases by 100 USD/day until the container is removed from the port, which will be collected by shipping lines. Importers are very upset when shipping lines prepare to pass this cost on to them.

Citing a 26% drop in overdue containers, port authorities last week delayed the issuance of the surcharge until November 22, but more detailed statistics from the Port of Los Angeles show the containers. lying over 13 days has actually increased compared to the previous week.

Port officials have said the goal is to improve portability, which had an all-time high of 86 container ships a week ago waiting to dock offshore. Some shippers, they said, are using the ports as temporary warehouses for less urgent goods. The decision to delay the controversial berth fee came after a meeting with the White House's special port agent, John Porcari, and industry stakeholders.


Container ships waiting at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

Container ships waiting at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (Photo: New York Times)


Before the pandemic broke out, import volumes increased by more than 20%, containers for domestic delivery were usually at ports in less than four days, while containers intended for rail transport were less than two days.

In October, containers moved out of the Los Angeles and Long Beach docks by truck in 7.64 days, up from the previous record of 5.9 days the previous month, according to data of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association released on Monday.

Containers leaving the port by rail continued to show a significant improvement, with these containers staying only 3.9 days compared to 5.5 days last month.

A terminal at the Southern California port complex began adding a congestion surcharge to its bill the morning before, said Nathan Strang, director of ocean freight management at logistics provider Flexport, removed when ports decide to delay adoption. These changes did not delay trucking, but did create some backlogs and confusion. "If they want to push out a delay, they should announce on Friday afternoon, not Monday after we’ve dispatched," he said on Twitter.

The Southern California port complex handles 40% of all imports shipped to the US, and the congestion there has impacted supply chains across the country.

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