Business, Freight News, Sea

China COVID crackdown hampers Oakland’s cargo flow

[ May 27, 2022   //   ]

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 that total volume through April dropped 7% from the same period a year ago. Containerized import loads through Oakland fell 17% last month, port officials said, while exports sagged 18%.
Much of the decline was attributed to factory and port shutdowns in China, Oakland’s largest trade partner. Port officials said disruption at Shanghai, the world’s busiest port, is delaying U.S.-bound import shipments and that wreaks havoc on ocean carrier scheduling.
“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.”
Oakland cargo flow have been affected by additional factors, including a drop in the number of ships stopping in Oakland, importers slow to retrieve shipments, thereby crowding container yards and slowing cargo discharge from ships; and a container shortage making it harder to load export shipments.
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 port officials, 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.