Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Overall Volume Down, Exports Up at Oakland

By Mark Edward Nero

Total containerized cargo volume – imports, exports and empty containers – was down more than 14 percent at the Port of Oakland in March compared to the same month in 2015, according to newly released data. Exports, however, were up significantly during that period.

Oakland port terminals saw a total of 178,947 TEUs in March 2016, a 14.6-percent decline compared to the same month last year.

The port says the decrease is due in part to the fact that Oakland’s March 2015 volumes were unusually high. It was March 2015 when the floodgates opened at West Coast ports following a protracted waterfront contract dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore & Warehouse Union.

The port also said that last month’s volume was limited by a seasonal post-Lunar New Year slowdown in imports from Asia.

But despite the sharp monthly decrease, total volume is up nearly 19 percent so far in 2016, according to port data, and containerized export volume is up 19.9 percent so far over 2015.

The port saw 558,241 TEUs combined during the first three months of 2016, an 18.9-percent jump over the same period last year.

March 2016 exports were up 9.9 percent, the third-straight monthly increase in Oakland.
Port officials attributed the gains to a recent decline in the strength of the dollar. US goods are more affordable overseas when the dollar’s value declines. Export volume declined at the Port of Oakland during most of 2015.

“It’s too soon to declare this a trend, but we’re encouraged by recent signs,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said of the strong outgoing container figures. “Exports are a critical component of our business.”