Mexico takes a back seat to China for U.S. exporters of ag products

Fallout from an ongoing U.S.-China trade war could include reductions in containerized cargo volume

By ·

The threatened Trump Administration tariffs against Mexico would have negligible impact on the Port of Oakland – the nation’s largest ocean cargo gateway for agricultural exports. 

In a statement late last week, the port’s Maritime Director , explained that Oakland “does little business there.”

Still, he recently warned the Port’s Efficiency Task Force that tariffs are “squeezing” shippers.  Fallout from an ongoing U.S.-China trade war could include reductions in containerized cargo volume, he indicated.

“Our customers are impacted by tariffs,” Driscoll told leaders from shipping, trucking, retailing and labor who convene quarterly to advise the port on operational policy.  “We’re hoping we can get through this period because we believe the future can be bright.”

Driscoll said 2019 Oakland cargo volume is up 4.6 percent from record volume in 2018.  He pointed out, however, that China accounts for roughly 38 percent of Oakland’s business.  The inference: tariff increases on U.S.-China trade could stymie further growth.

Meanwhile, containerized agricultural exports are rebounding despite an ongoing trade war. Indeed, farm good shipments in the first four months of 2019 increased 12 percent over last year. 

Port spokesmen added that ag exports to China rose 5 percent, despite that nation’s tariff standoff with the U.S.  The trends are welcome after Oakland’s worldwide ag exports declined 10 percent in 2018.

“It’s too soon to declare victory in this segment given the trade outlook,” said Driscoll.  “But our performance so far this year shows two things: there’s continued demand for U.S. farm goods and growers are resourceful when it comes to finding markets for their products.”

Through April, the port said it had exported the equivalent of 108,724 20-foot-containers loaded with farm products.  That was up from 97,376 containers in the same timeframe last year.  According to port data, most of those shipments went to Asia.  

Oakland port spokesmen said the average value per container of its ag export commodities was $36,000.  A year ago, the figure was only $31,500.

The port said increased export volume reflected the U.S. growers continue to see increased demand for their products in Asia.  They’re gaining in established markets such as Japan, but also finding new opportunities in places like Vietnam.

, the port’s communications director told LM in an interview that Asian markets outside China accounted for most of the growth in Oakland agricultural exports.  

“Among the leading destinations are Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan,” he said.  

U.S. producers have turned to those destinations since China imposed tariffs on American farm goods, making them more expensive for overseas buyers.

Agricultural commodities account for about 37 percent of all international exports shipped from Oakland.  The farm goods range from containerized rice to dried fruits, nuts and refrigerated beef.  Roughly 11 percent of Oakland’s ag shipments have gone to China so far, this year. 


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.


Article Topics

China · Mexico · Port of Oakland · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Making the Case for Using a Transportation Management System for Parcel Shipping
We discuss the key pain points that all parcel shippers are dealing with right now and show how a multi-carrier transportation management system can help reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and improve the organizational bottom line.
Download Today!
From the June 2019 Logistics Management Magazine
Over the years, we’ve tried to steer clear of too many themed issues because we’re proud to offer our readers a wide breadth of industry information. The logistics and transportation market is so diverse, and shippers are looking to solve a multitude of challenges across a number of modes and services areas—never just one.

Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) Evolves Beyond “inside the four walls”
Got labor? How supply chain companies are recruiting talent during a labor crunch
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Driving 20% More Revenue with APIs
The lack of connectivity between your systems and processes is your #1 barrier to efficiency and growth. Having helped some of the world's top logistics providers, Software AG shows how APIs can help you move faster than ever.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Got labor? How supply chain companies are recruiting talent during a labor crunch
How are companies faring in the race to recruit and train high-level supply chain talent in a market...
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...