Port of Oakland takes a breather

The port attributed decreased volume mostly to a pause by shippers following a 2018 global trade "frenzy."

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As with California's other major ports, A six-month-long containerized cargo surge came to a halt last month.

This came as no surprise, said Port spokesmen, adding that cargo volume was down 1.3 percent from a year ago.

February import cargo decreased 5 percent, year-over-year, the port reported.  It was the first decline in import volume since July 2018.  February exports were down 8.2 percent.  The shipment of empty containers back to origin destinations increased nearly 7 percent.

The port attributed decreased volume mostly to a pause by shippers following a 2018 global trade "frenzy."

Shipments spiked last year as importers rushed cargo to the U.S. ahead of anticipated tariff increases.  Analysts have since predicted an import slowdown due to jammed warehouses and delays in tariff hikes. 

The port said export volume has been held down by a strong U.S. dollar.  When the dollar is strong, American goods are costlier for overseas purchasers.

Shipping lines have responded to lower volumes by canceling some Asia-U.S. voyages, the port said. Asia is the port’s primary trading partner.  Oakland reported a 9.7 percent drop in February vessel calls compared to last year.

Oakland’s communications director, , told LM in an interview that the moderation of volume has enabled terminals to regain operating equilibrium. 

“Turn times are down in previous trouble spots,” he added. 

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [ protected]

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