On March 19, the Pacific Council hosted a teleconference about the economic impact of COVID-19 on Los Angeles, especially in regards to the Port of LA. Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, joined the call with Nastasha Everheart, director of strategy at the Pacific Council, to discuss current activity at the Port and his projections for the future.
Here are key takeaways from the call:
- At the time of the call, Seroka reported that the Port of LA was open for business and operations were running as normal. China’s shipping traffic was about 50 percent of normal levels, as was smog and pollution.
- Seroka denied rumors that the Port would close during the coronavirus pandemic and affirmed the Port would remain open for business. He also verified that the food supply is “fluid… We just need some time to restock but there are plenty of supplies. There will be no shortage of food.”
- A ramification of President Trump’s trade policy had been very full warehouses and distribution systems in previous months, which meant the current decline was not as hard-hitting as it could have been, though Seroka iterated his criticism of the president’s trade policies. Seroka projects losing 15 percent of imports because of President Trump’s trade policy toward China.
- The Port is taking steps to combat the virus amongst its workforce of 1,500 men and women. In addition to increased health and sanitation measures, there will be an increase in use of robotics at the Port of LA. Any worker displaced by automation receives checks for 40 percent of their salary through their retirement day, according to Seroka.
Listen to the full conversation below:
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Pacific Council.