U.S. Ambassadors learn about growing ties to Cambodia and Indonesia
Direct vessel calls from here to Southeast Asia are up 50 percent this spring, Port of Oakland officials say. Two U.S. Ambassadors to the region yesterday expressed delight at the news.
U.S. Ambassadors William Heidt (Cambodia) and Joseph Donovan (Indonesia) came to Oakland as part of the US-ASEAN Business Council’s annual U.S. Ambassadors’ Tour to study Oakland’s role in Southeast Asian trade. Port Executive Director Chris Lytle told them it’s growing rapidly.
Mr. Lytle said direct weekly vessel calls to Southeast Asia have risen from 10-to-15 since April 1. Highlights include:
• the first direct vessel service between Oakland and Jakarta;
• an increase from 2-to-4 weekly voyages linking Oakland with the Port of Laem Chabang near Bangkok; and
• an added 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 U.S. products,” Mr. Lytle told the Ambassadors “It’s imperative that we position ourselves to serve this market.”
The Executive Director said Oakland’s growing Southeast Asian presence coincides with changes to shipping line alliances. Eleven 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, Mr. Lytle said. The region has grown as a manufacturing center for U.S. markets, he pointed out. Meanwhile its growing middle class populations have increased demand for U.S. products. The result is an uptick in two-way trade, which should translate to more business for ocean carriers.
”The Port of Oakland, and the state of California more broadly, play a critical role in the United States’ economic relationship with Southeast Asia,” said Alexander Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council. “California is the largest U.S. exporter to Southeast Asia, with almost $16 billion in exports just last year, supporting over 87,000 jobs. We are grateful to the Port of Oakland for hosting the Ambassadors, and we look forward to continuing our partnership in support of increased two-way trade between the U.S. and Southeast Asia, which last year totaled $273 billion.”
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