L.A. Port officials travel to Chile and Asia to patch up relations with exporters

LOS ANGELES >> Los Angeles Harbor Commissioners and other port officials plan to travel to Chile, a major fruit-exporting country, and three Asian countries in hopes of patching up relations with customers following recent issues with congestion and a labor dispute at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

Later this month, Commissioner Vilma Martinez will visit Shanghai, Korea and Singapore to meet with executives of “key shipping lines,” including China Shipping, APL and NYK, according to Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

Commissioner David Arian has a trip to Chile planned for August to meet with private fruit exporters and refrigerated shipping lines, Sanfield said.

Activity at the ports were stalled or slowed amid a labor dispute that affected the entire West Coast of the U.S. and exacerbated a congestion problem that caused more than a dozen ships to sit idle outside the harbor at any given time.

Due to these issues, some companies have diverted their business to ports in Canada, Mexico and other places.

“As you know, after the issues we experienced between (October to April) of this year, we have lots of competition from other ports that want our business,” Sanfield said. “It’s critical that we have face time with our major customers to update them on the success we have had on clearing congestion and what we’re doing to improve cargo efficiencies.”