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Port of Oakland volume declines as Shanghai struggles

China’s COVID crackdown hampers Oakland’s cargo flow

Oakland, Calif. – Port of Oakland cargo volume is down in 2022, a consequence principally of China’s COVID crackdown and its ripple effect on ocean carrier scheduling.

The Port reported today that total volume through April dropped 7 percent from the same period a year ago. Containerized import loads through Oakland fell 17 percent last month, the Port said, while exports sagged 18 percent.

The Port attributed much of the decline to factory and port shutdowns in China, Oakland’s largest trade partner. The Port said disruption at Shanghai, the world’s busiest port, is delaying U.S.-bound import shipments and that wreaks havoc on ocean carrier scheduling.

Profile photo of Bryan Brandes

“U.S. exports have been hampered by vessel schedules thrown into disarray in China,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Most of Oakland’s business depends on the Asia-U.S. trade route.”

The Port said Oakland cargo flow has been affected by additional factors, including:

A drop in the number of ships stopping in Oakland; Importers are slow to retrieve shipments, thereby crowding container yards and slowing cargo discharge from ships; and container shortages make it harder to load export shipments.

Image of Port of Oakland volume declines as Shanghai struggles

Oakland said relief may be on the way for harried supply chains. Shanghai cargo activity has recently picked up, the Port said. Meanwhile, the Port is talking to shipping lines about increasing the number of Oakland vessel calls.

According to the Port, the pace of cargo operations should accelerate as vessel schedules normalize. That’s welcome news as Oakland prepares for peak shipping season, which industry experts say will begin earlier this year. Retailers are likely factoring in more time for receiving their goods based on the shipping delays they have been experiencing during COVID, said the Port.

During the peak of port congestion in 2021, as many as 30 ships were waiting to enter an Oakland berth. Today containerships number from one to a few waiting to do business at the Port of Oakland.

About the Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and nearly 20 miles of waterfront including Jack London Square. The Port’s 5-year strategic plan – Growth with Care – pairs business expansion with community benefits, envisioning more jobs and economic stimulus as the Port grows. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 84,000 jobs.

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