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Friday, April 28, 2017

Trade Expert: Oakland’s Export Growth Vital to US Economy

By Mark Edward Nero

A noted trade expert is calling for an export resurgence to stimulate the US economy and says that the Port of Oakland, which has strong exports, can help make it happen.

“Oakland supports exports, and people who support exports give us hope,” economist Walter Kemmsies recently told an audience of 100 supply chain leaders gathered last week in the port’s Jack London Square.

Kemmsies, the chief strategist for commercial real estate giant Jones, Lang, Lasalle, said export growth can help the US manage its debt burden. First, however, it must make infrastructure investments to become more efficient at serving overseas markets, he said.

Kemmsies noted that the US has underperformed as an exporter for the last 30 years. The Port of Oakland however, is considered one of America’s leading export gateways. Containerized export volume shipped through Oakland increased more than 10 percent in 2016. So far in 2017, exports have accounted for 52 percent of its total cargo volume. A rare occurrence in the US, as most ports are heavily skewed towards imports.

“The heroes are those who have an import-export balance,” Kemmsies said. “And Oakland is an important part of that.”

Consumer growth globally is accelerating fastest outside the US, Kemmsies said, as the result of explosive middle class expansion in developing countries – primarily in Asia. American producers need to tap overseas markets, the economist explained, to remain competitive.

Kemmsies also said the US should concentrate on high-value exports including agricultural commodities – an Oakland mainstay.

“A less US-centric world requires more US exports,” he concluded.