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Freight rates spike as Asian cargo ships jam US West Coast ports

Container shortage grows as ports struggle to handle import surge

Containers are stacked up at the port in Long Beach, California.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- An influx of imports from Asia to the U.S. has created a bottleneck at West Coast ports, with backed up cargo ships contributing to a worldwide shortage of containers and soaring shipping rates.

The volume of containers handled at the California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which serve as gateways for goods from Asia, grew 45% in February compared with a year earlier, climbing for an eighth consecutive month. In March, container volume at the port of Los Angeles apparently surged by more than 80%.

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