The United States economy is the most powerful in the world, contributing to over 26% of total global consumption. That said, ocean freight to and from the US is an important driving factor of the North American economy.
The US is the world’s largest importer, dealing over $2.2 trillion worth of goods with its main partners - China, Mexico, Japan, Canada, and Germany - in 2016. Its exports reached $1.47 billion, making it the world’s largest second exporter.
One of the most important aspects of your ocean freight to the US includes deciding between a Full Container Load (FCL) or a Less than a Container Load (LCL). As its name suggests, an FCL means you have the entire container to yourself and can occupy its entire space. Depending on the amount of cargo, you can choose between a 20-foot or 40-foot FCL, which carries a total of 10 or 21 standard American pallets respectively. The standard American pallet measures 47.24 inches long and 39.37 inches wide. If you’ll be occupying over half of the container space, it’s more ideal to opt for an FCL because it allows you to take greater advantage of the transportation cost. Plus, it prevents risk of damages and contamination.
LCL, on the other hand, means you will have to share container space with other shippers. If your cargo is more durable and less sensitive to damages and contamination, this is the better choice. It helps you save on shipping costs as you will be sharing the cost of the container with other parties.
The Port of Los Angeles is the US’ largest port. Located in the western state of California’s San Pedro Bay, it’s responsible for the majority of the cargo arriving via the Transpacific route from Asia. With a 43-mile long waterfront and land occupying 7,500 acres, it’s not a surprise that it’s the US’ top port, a position it has held since 2000. In total, it accounts for 13.5% of the North American market share. The port is estimated to handle around $1.2 billion worth of shipments every day.
The Port of Long Beach is located right next to the Port of Los Angeles and is largely known as its sister port. It takes 12.1% of the North American market share and together with the Port of LA, handles over 25% of the overall container trade in the continent. Given its strategic location, it is also considered one of the major gateways for trade with Asia. Trade movement at the Port of Long Beach is estimated at $180 billion annually.
The Ports of New York and New Jersey are considered as one entity and is the US East Coast’s busiest port and the country’s third-largest after Los Angeles and Long Beach. It contributes to over 11% of the overall container trade in the continent. Given its highly strategic and well-connected location, it offers access to one of the, if not the most concentrated consumer markets in the world. Commonly handled commodities include petroleum, bulk, scrap metal, and break bulk cargo.
Over in the Peach State are where the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick are located. The continent’s largest single-terminal container facility with the biggest concentration of import distribution centre is located at the Port of Savannah. And with more than 500 acres of land leased or owned by the automobile industry, the Port of Brunswick is the US’ top port for importing new auto.
Jointly operated by the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma, both located in Washington State, merged in 2015. Together, their cargo volumes account for more than 5% of the North American market. It continues to register strong growth. In 2017, it recorded its strongest first quarter international container volumes in 12 years.