Loaded container volume at the Port of Oakland edged up in April, but the outlook calls for a likely downturn ahead, officials said today.
Container volume increased 1.4% in April compared to the year-ago period, while export loads rose 3.6% and imports dipped 0.9%. Despite the better-than-expected performance, port officials said they anticipate reduced volumes over the next few months as shipping lines cancel voyages due to the global economic downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic. Eleven percent of scheduled Oakland vessel calls in May and June have been canceled, they said.
“Our April cargo performance was better than expected, but it was most likely a blip resulting from the release of pent-up demand when factories re-opened in China after being quarantined,” the port said in a statement. “We’re faring better than some other ports, but our forecast in the coming months is overall volume throughput decline of 5-to-10 percent.”
In contrast, officials said exports continue to be a “bright spot.” Export volume has increased year-over-year in three of the past four months, according to Port data. Officials said growth in exports to Southeast Asian markets has offset shrinking trade with China, and that Asian demand is strongest for U.S. farm goods.
Total cargo volume—imports, exports, and empty container shipments—declined 6.5% last month. Officials attributed the decline to a 29% drop in shipments of empty containers back to origin destinations