California Ports – Gateways to America
International trade is a critical component of our nation’s economy and California ports play a vital role in serving the nation’s trade needs. With major port facilities covering the coast, and two ports on inland waterways, California is a major gateway for products entering and leaving the United States. In fact, more than 40% of the total containerized cargo entering the United States arrives at California ports and almost 30% of the nation’s exports flow through ports in the Golden State. Trade is also a major force in California, related to nearly 25% of the state’s economy. California’s public ports are a critical link in the international supply chain, and a vital component of our local, regional, state and national economic well-being. Port activities employ more than half-a-million people in California and generate an estimated $9 billion in state and local tax revenue annually. Nationwide, nearly 3 million jobs are linked to California’s public ports.
As a critical component of California’s complex freight transportation system – a system responsible for one-third of the state’s economy and jobs, with freight-dependent industries accounting for over $700 billion in revenue and over 5 million jobs – California ports serve a vital and unique role for the state and the nation. California is home to the most productive system of ports in the nation, including three of America’s largest container ports and a diverse system of specialty ports.
California is home to three of the largest ports in the nation. The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest port in the United States, followed closely by the second largest port in the country, the Port of Long Beach. The Port of Oakland is the fifth busiest port nationwide. Combined, these three ports manage the majority of shipping containers – measured in TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units – imported and exported through California. In 2014, more than 16.5 million TEUs entered or exited the United States through one of California’s public ports.
California is also home to eight smaller ports situated along the coast from Humboldt to San Diego, and along inland waterways in West Sacramento and Stockton. California’s smaller ports manage containerized operations and their principal focus is on general bulk cargo, fresh produce and other agricultural products, automobiles, aggregate, steel, liquid bulk and project cargo. These ports play critical roles in bringing international trade to local and regional markets, are major employers, and provide tremendous economic benefit to our local, regional and statewide economies.
In addition to facilitating trade, California’s ports also provide non-cargo related services and facilities, such as passenger cruise line services, restaurant and hotel accommodations, entertainment, and tourist attractions. The Port of San Francisco, for example, has day and nighttime activities on its waterfront, and through its Waterfront Land Use Plan encourages creation of new public access and recreation. The Port of San Diego boasts sixteen parks and numerous bike paths within its trust properties, as well as boating, dinning, lodging, fishing, shopping and tourist accommodations.
Cruise ship operations provide tremendous economic benefit to local economies as cruise passengers stay and play in port cities before, during and after enjoying world-class cruises arriving at, and departing from, California ports. Many ports also develop and maintain commercial fishing facilities and recreational harbors and marinas.