US west coast ports appear to bounce back after last year's slowdown

US WEST coast ports have experienced an increase in container volumes during the first three months of 2016 with Los Angeles and Long Beach experiencing their busiest time in years.

LA handled more than two million TEU during the first quarter of 2016, representing an increase of 11.3 per cent during the quarter compared to last year's volume of 1.8 million TEU.

Long Beach first quarter volumes were up 6.1 per cent to 3.3 million TEU while Oakland throughput rose 18.9 per cent, noted Rotterdam's World Maritime News.

But LA monthly totals fell 22.6 per cent year on year to 612,863 TEU in March, falling 26.2 per cent at Long Beach, declined blamed on the Chinese New Year factory shut down.

"The uneven global economy, industry financial pressures, weak US export demand and the introduction of mega ships have created dynamic conditions for the maritime industry that will continue to play out over the coming year," said departing Long Beach port CEO Jon Slangerup.

Oakland reported "signs of export rally" at the port's quarterly containerised export volume was up 19.9 per cent, while the monthly export volume increase 9.9 per cent.

Port officials attributed the gains to a recent decline in the strength of the dollar as US goods are more affordable overseas when the dollar's value declines.

US west coast recovery comes after 29 ports were hit by prolonged contract disputes over a new labour contract between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which led to significant drops in throughput last year.