By Donna Littlejohn, February 21, 2014
Facing future competition from ports as close as Mexico, Port of Los
Angeles officials on Thursday outlined business strategies they said
would be needed to ensure the port retains and expands its role as a
global shipping hub.
The strategies outlined at the regular Board
of Harbor Commissioners meeting included focusing on new customer and
shipping alliances as well as partnerships with terminals.
The port’s objectives include:
• Grow container business by 3 percent annually.
• Increase the cruise ship passenger count by 15 percent over three years.
• Increase export business, with a goal of converting 75 businesses that can export goods by 2017.
• Increase cargo support revenues and rentals such as trucking, warehouses, rail, tugs and barges by 10 percent.
has been a long time in the making,” said David Mathewson, director of
planning and economic development, about the strategy outline presented
The springboard was a five-year plan for port
objectives developed in 2012 that stressed the need to grow market share
and revenues using such strategies as customer shipping alliances and
partnerships, said Mike DiBernardo, director of port business
development. The plan presented a blueprint for growth and job creation
and also addressed such issues as optimizing land use and strengthening
the relationship with surrounding communities.
The Port of Los Angeles leads ports worldwide in container
volumes because of its proximity to Asia, a large local market for
shipped goods, available warehouses, a chain of distribution centers and
a strong labor pool.
The existing skilled labor workforce in the ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach handles more than 40 percent of the nation’s inbound
containerized trade, according to the report.
But barriers to
growth exist, including competition from other ports on both coasts and
particularly from the rapid growth of Canadian and Mexican shipping
ports on the West Coast, an issue expected to play a significant role in
the upcoming labor contract negotiations.
Increasingly, East and Gulf Coast ports are capitalizing on
inland connections to move goods by land into the Midwest, a key
consumer battleground that has emerged.
Contributing to that trend
is a $5.25 billion widening of the Panama Canal that would allow Asian
container ships to bypass Los Angeles and Long Beach and move onto ports
along the East and Gulf coasts.
“We need to become the most
efficient port in the United States,” Commissioner David Arian said.
“Six or seven years ago, (the target goal) was to become the cleanest.
But now it’s efficiency, that’s what’s going to make the difference.”
Arian said Mexico ports still pose the greatest challenge.
“If they get their stuff together, they’re going to be our main competition, not the Panama Canal,” he said.
strategies outlined Thursday call for offering more incentives and
fostering partnerships between shipping companies and individual