- The nation’s largest port complex said Friday it will end a program that threatened to fine ocean carriers for long-dwelling cargo, another sign of easing congestion on the West Coast.
- The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will phase out the option to collect a terminal dwell fee on Jan. 24, 2023. Neither port had ever issued the fee since it was first announced in Oct. 2021.
- The dwell fee was set to apply to ocean carriers in cases where imports were left on marine terminals for longer than nine days. Officials with the San Pedro Bay ports complex said the threat of a fee contributed to a 92% decline in aging cargo over the last 14 months.
Port officials created the terminal dwell fee in partnership with the Biden administration as a creative way to tackle overwhelming congestion on the West Coast. But as cargo volumes plummeted over the last few months, logjams at Los Angeles and Long Beach have largely disappeared.
“I said when we launched this program that I hoped we would never collect a dime because that would mean that containers were moving off our docks,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a statement. “And that’s exactly what occurred.”
Shippers have avoided the West Coast in recent months due to uncertainty over dockworker negotiations, leading to elevated volumes at East Coast and Gulf ports. Ports in areas including New York and Houston are now contemplating their own dwell fees as they handle record volumes and experience congestion.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Seroka and other officials are focused on rebalancing cargo flows and bringing more containers back to Los Angeles. Seroka has met with shippers across the country over the past six weeks to assure them that the Port of Los Angeles is ready for more business.
“I've been in the East Coast, Midwest .... talking to importers, exporters, retailers, manufacturers,” Seroka said on a media call last week. “Making sure they understand the ground truth: We've got wide open capacity here in Los Angeles.”