Congestion in Ports on the US West Coast Challenges Costa Rican Exporters

    A way to anticipate a shipment requires even more organization and planning on the part of the sector

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    A higher-than-expected level of demand for Asian products from the United States would be the main cause of congestion in the main seaports of the West Coast was recently reported. This irruption in the supply chains led the German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd to suspend all reservations from Latin America, including Costa Rica, as announced on April 23rd.

    Although, for the moment, it is the only company that has made an announcement of this type, the national export sector recognized the problems that this represents for the union in matters such as logistics and resources, explained the president of Cadexco, Laura Bonilla.

    Over demand

    Currently, in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two main ports in the state of California, ships are experiencing an average delay of between 10 and 13 days, according to a spokesperson for the Hapag-Lloyd shipping company was quoted.

    “The situation has completely changed the supply chain and international logistics, so exporters have to look for alternatives, not only temporary, but long-term. This to avoid further damage, such as a high increase in logistics costs and readjustments in travel times. A way to anticipate a shipment requires even more organization and planning on the part of the sector”, added the head of the Costa Rican Chamber of Exporters (Cadexco).


    The Costa Rican Pacific port is the third most important customs office in terms of the value of the products that leave its facilities, only behind the Juan Santamaría International Airport and Puerto Limón.

    Regarding tonnage, Caldera handles 1.1 million tons of the country’s sales abroad. That represented an approximate value of $ 705,305 million, during 2020, according to official figures from the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer).

    Although the situation, present since November, has shown signs of improvement in recent days, the consequences will last throughout the year, the company added in a press release. According to figures from the Southern California shipping office, last week the number of ships waiting to be unloaded was 18 while, last Sunday, it fell to 16.


    Hapag and Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen announced last year that rates would increase in the second half of the year due to strong demand. According to Bonilla, this scenario makes it more difficult for Costa Rican exporters to: Get a reservation at a shipping company. The container and the space on the ship. In addition, even in the case of obtaining them, “the ship can spend days waiting in the port,” he recalled.

    For this reason, the hierarch urged the sector to take precautions in the medium and long term, at the same time that he took the opportunity to remind the Executive Branch of the importance of providing more tools to the productive sector. Especially in view of new challenges arising from the Pandemic.

    Along these lines, the Center for the Promotion of Trade with Asia Pacific expressed, on Tuesday, its concern about the lack of clarity in the words of the president, Carlos Alvarado, during his rendering of accounts before the Legislative Assembly. This, when referring to the Port of Caldera.

    This was stated by the group’s general director, Andrés Gamboa. The representative recalled that this situation costs the country more than $ 100 million annually. At the same time, the lag in comparison with other direct competitors is growing.

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