Port of Oakland Reports Unexpected Rise in Imports During June

Port of Oakland experienced an unexpected increase in import volumes in June 2020
(file photo)

Published Jul 10, 2020 8:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a surprise development, the Port of Oakland reported an increase in loaded import volumes in June. Since March and the onset of the global pandemic, the port had seen indications of significant cargo declines but the current increase reversed those trends.

Oakland reported that loaded import volume grew 1.9 percent in June compared to the year earlier. According to port officials, the gain was unexpected given that shipping lines canceled 10 percent of their scheduled Oakland visits due to the trade-related impact of coronavirus. In the prior month, loaded import volume dropped nearly 15 percent Oakland reported.

The port attributed the uptick in imports it experienced last month to retailers accelerating shipments to the U.S. Oakland believes that retailers are anticipating a rise in freight rates as cargo-carrying capacity dwindles each month as shipping lines continue to cancel voyages. 

Despite the gain in imports, Oakland’s overall container volume, which includes imports, exports, and empty containers, decreased due to the coronavirus pandemic's continued dampening of global trade. Total volume was down more than two percent as the port handled 199,011 TEUs compared to 203,730 a year ago

Export volume declined nearly six percent in June and returns of empty containers to origins in Asia also decreased 14.5 percent.

Oakland said that the weakening export performance was likely due to reduced consumer demand in foreign markets caused by COVID-19 disruptions. Additionally, China instituted new restrictions on wastepaper exports from the United States that further dampened export volumes.