Cargo volume was down at the Port of Oakland in January as supply chain congestion continued along the West Coast, officials said today.
Imports fell nearly 12% during the month and exports were down just over 11% compared to year-ago levels, in part due to backups and delays of shipments coming from ports in Southern California, officials said. Other factors include a temporary loss of berth capacity at Oakland’s largest marine terminal, where new cranes are being assembled, and dwindling vessel space for Oakland exports as ships carry more empty cargo containers back to Asia.
Port officials said the low levels are an anomaly at a time when U.S importers face growing consumer demand, and that they expect volume to increase in the coming months as crowding eases.
“There’s a lot of cargo trapped on ships just waiting to get here after departing Southern California,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said in a statement Tuesday. “Our concern is getting shipments to our customers as quickly as we can.”
The delays in Oakland stem from pressure on ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, where ships from Asia often stop first to unload cargo slated for the more populous Southern California region, officials said. They added that congestion at the state’s Southern ports is causing delays of up to a week for Oakland arrivals. French shipping line CMA CGM helped remedy the problem this month with a new first-call service in Oakland, and port officials said other ocean carriers may add similar services by mid-year.
Despite slower import and export activity, overall container volume for January was off less than 6% in Oakland, offset by a nearly 16% increase in the shipment of empty containers back to Asia.