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Texas Governor Abbott believes he can attract cargo to Texas ports due to delays in California. Here’s why it doesn’t make sense

Or at least he might want his state’s voters to think so, even if he doesn’t believe it.

His campaign released a video which falsely claims that the way for cargo to bypass delays in Southern California is to sail to ports in Texas instead.

“Are your products stranded off Long Beach? Texas ports are wide open,” read the video, which Abbott tweeted to subscribers Monday. “Port delays can be up to 100 days in California. In less than two weeks your cargo can leave California and be in one of our 24/7 Texas cargo ports unloaded. and on its way to the shelves near you. Pick a state that doesn’t view inflation and the backlog in the US supply chain as a good thing. Escape California. Everybody does it. Pick it up. Texas. “

It is true that there has been a constant flow of individuals and businesses from California to Texas in recent years. Notably You’re here (TSLA) announced a month ago that it was moving its headquarters from Silicon Valley near Austin. HP companies (HPE), a descendant of the company that helped give birth to Silicon Valley as the country’s premier technology corridor, and software and cloud services giant Oracle (ORCL), both announced that they will also be moving to the state capital of Texas in December. There are good reasons, including lower taxes and lower house prices, these measures make sense for businesses and individuals.

But when it comes to freight containers, not so much.

There are a lot of issues and inaccuracies with the governor’s video, not least of which is that the port delays are now 100 days away in California. Earlier this fall, they averaged about 10 days. Now, delays in entering ports have fallen to seven to eight days, according to data from Spire Global, a data analytics company that provides global vessel tracking data.

And no, it doesn’t take “less than two weeks” of extra sailing time from Asia to Texas compared to the time it takes to navigate from Asia to nearby Los Angeles or Long Beach. Shanghai to Houston would be 37 days on average, according to data from Speyer. From Shanghai to Los Angeles or Long Beach would only take 20 days.

Many of the larger container ships are actually too big to cross the Panama Canal and could not make the trip as fast. In fact, many ships that carry Asian cargo to Texas go around the world in the other direction and stop in Europe before reaching Houston.

Even with port delays, it’s faster to put a container unloaded in Los Angeles or Long Beach on a railcar and ship it anywhere in the country, including Texas, than it is to sail to a port. from the Gulf Coast or the East Coast. This is why the west coast ports take the lion’s share of Asian imports.

“No other port in the Western Hemisphere has the infrastructure, manpower, rail network and warehousing to match the [container volume] who will cross the [Southern California ports] complex this year, ”said a statement from the Port of Los Angeles when asked about Abbott’s video.

Abbott’s campaign and his administration did not respond to CNN Business’s requests for comment on the video and its allegations. That the video was produced by his campaign and posted to Abbott’s personal Twitter feed, and not by the State Economic Development Agency or the Port of Houston, the only major container port in the State suggests it was aimed more at voters than actually attracting business. Abbott is running for re-election in 2022.

Granted, Houston has seen an increase in container traffic this year, as have all US ports. The reason for this is the pandemic-related seismic shift in spending by U.S. consumers away from services such as dining out, travel or going to the movies or sporting events, and more on real goods, which must be moved. Even domestically produced products, such as cars or household appliances, depend on parts that must be imported through US ports.

That’s why there are delays outside of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40% of containers moving cargo to the United States.

“The port complex will handle all-time record volumes against a backdrop of unprecedented increases in imports driven by the US consumer,” said the statement from the Port of Los Angeles. “The supply chain challenges the world faces are in large part the result of new levels of global demand.”

Everything you expect is in these containers

As Houston sees more cargo volume, no ships have been diverted from Southern California, Port of Houston spokeswoman Lisa Ashley said.

Houston is the 6th largest container port in the country. But in 2020, it handled the equivalent of 2.9 million 20-foot containers of freight, which is how volumes are measured. That’s a fraction of the 9.2 million managed by Los Angeles alone, plus 8.1 million in Long Beach.

Houston’s core business is bulk commodities, primarily oil and gas. But it handles 70% of the container traffic along the Gulf Coast and virtually all container ports in Texas. In the unlikely event that a container ship bound for Los Angeles was diverted to Texas, that is where it would go.

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