California ports remain resilient: calm before the storm?

The Port of Oakland says its import business is still growing, as spokesmen report that its containerized inbound volume jumped 7 percent last month compared to April 2018. It was the busiest April in the port’s 92-year history.

By ·

On the eve of threatened tariff increases, all three major ocean cargo gateways in California are reporting record container throughput numbers for April. 

Furthermore, the Port of Oakland says its import business is still growing, as spokesmen report that its containerized inbound volume jumped 7 percent last month compared to April 2018.  It was the busiest April in the port’s 92-year history.

The port said import totals have increased in three of the first four months of 2019.  It added that export volume edged up 1.7 percent last month.

Oakland’s trade numbers predated U.S. warnings of increased tariffs on Chinese goods that could take effect tomorrow.  The Trump Administration has threatened to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent. China is Oakland’s largest trading partner.  A tariff hike could dampen import demand while also prompting retaliatory levies on U.S. exports.

“We entered this year with uncertainty over the trade outlook, so we’re gratified by the solid performance of import cargo,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.  “At the same time, all of us involved in global trade are concerned about what comes next.”

The port said that Oakland import volume has increased 5.8 percent through the first four months of 2019.  It attributed the gains primarily to continued strong U.S. consumer demand.  Oakland’s total cargo volume – imports, exports and empty containers – is up 4.6 percent, so far this year.

The number of vessels calling at Oakland in 2019 has declined 8.1 percent, however, as carriers are consolidating more cargo on fewer but larger ships to cut costs, the port stated. 

When asked if trade tensions will make it even harder for Oakland to attract a fully-loaded "first-call" vessel from Asia, spokesmen admitted that the long-term effect of this trade tension remains uncertain.  

“Cargo volume continues to grow in Oakland which reflects growth in the business of our customers,” said Oakland’s director of communications, Mike Zampa. “Our concern is that additional trade barriers could dampen their growth.”


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]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.


Latest Whitepaper
Is It Time For a New Network Strategy?
A successful supply chain network design gives companies a competitive advantage, pinpoints ways to significantly reduce costs, improves service levels, reduces overall cycle times, streamlines all processes and systems used, and more.
Download Today!
From the May 2019 Logistics Management Magazine
May is our Technology Issue, and we’ve devoted the majority of our pages this month to the evolution of the technology toolbox that’s now within our grasp.
The Digital Supply Chain Takes Shape
Top 30 U.S. Ports 2019: Trade tensions determine where cargo goes next
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Technology Roundtable: Are you ready for what’s next?
In this webcast LM's group editorial director Michael Levans gathers four top supply chain management technology analysts to discuss how some of the hottest software and technologies is helping logistics and supply chain management professionals streamline their operations to meet the pressing demands of digital commerce and manage through the tightest labor market in a generation.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
35th Annual Salary Survey: Compensation matters more than ever
While job satisfaction remains the primary reason for today’s logistics managers to stay with one...
2019 Rate Outlook: Pressure Builds
In 2019, the world economy will enter a third straight year of broad-based growth, but many...

2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update: Keeping pace with the times
The transportation management systems market is growing right along with the number of challenges...
The Logistics News that Shaped 2018
Every year at this time, group news editor Jeff Berman combs through the mountain of news that was...