Imports were up 1.8 percent to 317,883 TEUs compared to last year, while exports fell 12.7 percent to 123,804 TEUs. Empty containers jumped 13.5 percent to 186,435 TEUs.
Port Executive Director Mario Cordero said the increase in empty containers reflect the lingering effects of imported cargo being rushed in during the fourth quarter of 2018 ahead of potential tariffs.
“Ocean carriers have been busy repositioning containers back to Asia after sending so many to North America late last year,” said Cordero. “With peak season approaching, we’re expecting imports to continue to grow, but it’s clear exports are suffering under the weight of tariffs.”