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California docks see “significant progress” with backlog in supply chain, port chief says

Container ships sit off the Long Beach / Los Angeles Port Complex in Long Beach, Calif. On Wednesday, October 6, 2021.

Jeff Gritchen | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The executive director of the Port of Long Beach said on Wednesday that California’s twin ports were making “significant progress” in tackling the backlog of freighters and containers.

“I think we are moving forward with progress and I hope that over the next six months we will continue to mitigate the scenario that we are seeing here,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach told Becky Quick. from CNBC on “Squawk Box”.

Cordero said the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which account for 40% of sea freight entering the United States, are working around the clock to unload containers.

In an effort to address the backlog of container ships, congestion caused in part by a global shutdown following the coronavirus outbreak, California’s twin ports have announced unprecedented charges on ocean carriers.

The fines, which were announced in a joint statement from the two port directors on Oct. 25, charge carriers $ 100 per day per container left on the dock. Carriers would have a maximum of nine days to move containers by truck before fines start to pile up and six days if they move by rail.

Since the announcement of the new charges, which have yet to be imposed, both ports have seen pending cargo containers reduced by 33%. Cordero says there are still about 61 freighters off the coast of California awaiting unloading. That compares to a record 111 ships just two weeks ago, according to data from the Marine Exchange.

The fines, known as “Container Dwell Fees,” follow the Biden administration’s plan to operate 24/7 in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Cordero says that while speeding up operations has helped ease the deadlock at the country’s busiest port complex, there are still other issues to be addressed in the supply chain.

“There are truckers, marine terminal operators, warehouses, railways and port authorities,” Cordero said, adding that a lasting solution would require “a real collaborative effort” from all parties.

“It will take time, but the good news is that there is a very solid conversation about the need for transformational change.”

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