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Port of Los Angeles expects 25% drop in Feb container volumes due to coronavirus

The Port of Los Angeles, the US’ largest container port, is forecasting a 25% drop in volumes in February due to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

The port reported a 5.4% drop in its January container volumes to 806,144 teu, which Port of Los Angeles executive director Gene Seroka attributed to mainly to the impact of tariffs on Chinese imports.

However, with the impact of the coronavirus on Chinese production, ports and exports the Port of Los Angeles is forecasting a 25% drop in container volumes for February and 15% for the first quarter of 2020.

“What we’re seeing right now is 40 cancelled sailings from February 11 through to April 1, that would amount to about 25% of our ship calls for the time of year post Lunar New Year,” Seroka told CNBC in an interview.

Seroka, who was based in Shanghai for APL at the time 2003 SARS outbreak sees the impact of the coronavirus as greater than the situation in 2003.

“This appears to be much worse because of the number of folks who were affected and the lack of productivity that is taking place throughout the supply chain, starting with the manufacturing base,” he said.

With the coronavirus spreading in Europe and the Middle East the next biggest concern after China for the Port of Los Angeles remains in Asia with surge in cases in Korea to over 900, and Seroka noted that Busan was a big hub for its business. The coronavirus has not impacted port operations in Korea as yet although has hit some industrial production due parts and components shortages from China.

Read all Seatrade Maritime News coverage on the impact of the coronavirus on shipping

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