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Port of Oakland Loaded Box Volume Rises

May 14, 2020

Port of Oakland loaded container volume edged up last month but a likely downturn is ahead. That was the message Port officials delivered today as the coronavirus pandemic pressured global trade.

The Port reported that April loaded container volume increased 1.4 percent compared to the same month last year. Export loads rose 3.6 percent, the Port said, while imports dipped 0.9 percent.

The outlook in coming months is for reduced cargo volume, the Port added. That’s because 11 percent of scheduled Oakland vessel calls in May and June have been canceled by shipping lines. Ocean carriers worldwide are scrubbing voyages due to dwindling demand by shippers for vessel space. The culprit: a global economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.

“Our April cargo performance was better than expected, but it was most likely a blip resulting from the release of pent-up demand when factories re-opened in China after being quarantined,” the Port said in a statement. “We’re faring better than some other ports, but our forecast in the coming months is overall volume throughput decline of 5-to-10 percent.”

The Port said exports leaving Oakland for overseas markets continue to be a bright spot midst the pandemic. Export volume has increased year-over-year in three of the past four months, according to Port data. The Port said growth in exports to Southeast Asian markets has offset shrinking trade with China. It said Asian demand is strongest for U.S. farm goods.

The Port said its total cargo volume – imports, exports and empty container shipments – declined 6.5 percent last month. It attributed the decline to a 29 percent drop in shipments of empty containers back to origin destinations.

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