Officials highlighted many of the Port of Long Beach’s achievements during the coronavirus pandemic—from rebounding cargo volumes that ended up breaking historic records, to massive infrastructure projects like the completion of the Gerald Desmond Replacement bridge—during the annual State of the Port address Thursday morning.
While 2021 is likely to be a year of recovery, Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero predicted that it won’t necessarily be a return to the world as we knew it. “We know the pandemic will leave a lasting impact on the port,” he said. “Just as 9/11 impacted our security preparedness, COVID-19 will transform public health.”
Looking toward the future, Cordero predicted one aspect of that lasting impact: A continuation of the explosion in e-commerce that helped drive a surge in cargo volumes at the port of Long Beach toward the end of last year.
“The economic calamity of the past year is certain to change many American business sectors, especially retail,” Cordero said.
One company, Amazon, has become synonymous with this change. “It is clear that Amazon world is here now,” Cordero said. “At the port, we must face the future with an Amazon state of mind, focused on efficiency, predictability and reliability.”
Throughout the crisis, the port has continued to build new infrastructure and port workers have moved record amounts of cargo. With 8,113,315 twenty-foot equivalent units moved, 2020 became the port’s busiest year on record.
“If there was ever any question about the importance of the supply chain, we certainly know the answer,” Cordero said, while reiterating a call to vaccinate port workers as quickly as possible. “This year, we proved that seaports are essential to the health of our nation and the economy.”
How these seaports, including the port of Long Beach, will fare in the global competition moving forward is in part dependent on the country’s policy on foreign trade, Cordero said, which is likely to change under President Joe Biden.
“This is also an opportunity to come together to reassess this country’s trade and tariff policies,” Cordero said in reference to the new presidential administration.
Cordero referred to Biden’s call for unity before adding his summary of a tumultuous year.
“Over the last year, we’ve seen division, civil unrest, racial tension, economic uncertainty and a global pandemic. Life, as we had known it, changed drastically,” Cordero said. “But hope is on the horizon.”