Freight News, Sea

Port of Oakland cargo surge cooled off last month

[ March 22, 2019   //   ]

A six-month-long containerized cargo surge came to a halt, as expected, at the Port of Oakland last month. The Port said that its total February cargo volume was down 1.3% from a year ago.

February import cargo decreased 5%, year-over-year, the Port reported. It was the first decline in import volume since July 2018. February exports were down 8.2%. The shipment of empty containers back to origin destinations increased nearly 7%.

The Port attributed decreased volume mostly to a pause by shippers following a 2018 global trade frenzy. Shipments spiked last year as importers rushed cargo to the U.S. ahead of anticipated tariff increases. Analysts have since predicted an import slowdown due to jammed warehouses and delays in tariff hikes.

The Port said export volume has been held down by a strong U.S. dollar. When the dollar is strong, American goods are costlier for overseas purchasers.

Shipping lines have responded to lower volumes by canceling some Asia-U.S. voyages, the Port said. Asia is the Port’s primary trading partner. Oakland reported a 9.7% drop in February vessel calls compared to last year.