Thursday, May 25, 2017

Port of Oakland: Vessel Calls to Southeast Asia Up 50 Percent

By Mark Edward Nero

Direct vessel calls from the Port of Oakland to countries in Southeast Asia are up 50 percent this spring, Oakland officials said May 23.

Direct weekly vessel calls to Southeast Asia have risen from 10 to 15 since April 1, port Executive Director Chris Lytle said.

Highlights from the past several weeks include the first direct vessel service between Oakland and Jakarta, an increase from two to four weekly voyages linking Oakland with the Port of Laem Chabang near Bangkok, and an additional weekly Singapore call enabling more cargo to be transported from nearby Cambodia to Oakland.

“Southeast Asia is a dynamic region with significant export potential and increasing demand for US products,” Lytle said. “It’s imperative that we position ourselves to serve this market.”

He also added that Oakland’s growing Southeast Asian presence coincides with changes to shipping line alliances as 11 leading ocean carriers realigned in April, sharing vessel services to control costs. One outgrowth of their restructuring was heightened emphasis on Oakland-Southeast Asia trade.

Shipping lines have been drawn to Southeast Asia due to shifting trade patterns, Lytle said. The region has grown as a manufacturing center for US markets, he pointed out. Meanwhile, its growing middle class populations have increased demand for US products. The result has been an uptick in two-way trade, which could translate to more business for ocean carriers.

California is the largest US exporter to Southeast Asia, with almost $16 billion in exports just last year, supporting over 87,000 jobs, according to Alexander Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council, an advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.