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Oakland on the rise

Box traffic continues to grow at Oakland, and the port has added another service connecting to Vietnam.

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Oakland’s fortunes continue to rise, and the port’s March statistics have perhaps surprised even the port itself.


Since late 2018 Oakland has been tempering its results announcements with a caution that increased box volume is due to importers bringing forward shipments to beat tariffs, and a slow down was to be expected. In December 2018 the port reported its strongest November volumes for 11 years, but Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll cautioned that heading into 2019 “we remain cautious and approach the new year with uncertainty.”


A big decline in volume, however, has yet to materialise. Oakland’s numbers were up in January, and down just 1.3% in February. In the March figures just released the monthly TEU total was up 10.7% to 213,972 TEU, with loaded exports showing a 7.6% increase. For Q1 2019 Oakland box volume grew 4.2% to 612,151 TEU.


The import surge has clearly cooled, but not to the extent many were expecting. “Though the import rally has calmed down, we are still seeing a strong consumer demand in Northern California and Western Nevada,” said Driscoll. “The Bay Area’s strong consumer-based economy has helped the Port of Oakland absorb the impact of the weakening rally better than other ports.”

HICT Haiphong is a deepwater port
HICT Haiphong is a deepwater port

On the service side Oakland will add new direct service to Vietnam by late April. Pacific International Lines (PIL) will be calling at Oakland on a revamped AC5 service in partnership with Cosco and Wan Hai. The service uses vessels up to 11,900 TEU and the rotation will be: Haiphong, Nansha, Hong Kong, Yantian, Long Beach, Oakland, Yantian, Haiphong. Currently the AC5 service starts in Nansha, with a call at Ningbo between Yantian and Long Beach, which has been omitted in favour of starting at Haiphong and adding Oakland.


Vessels up to 14,000 TEU can now be handled in Haiphong at Haiphong International Container Terminal Co., Ltd., which opened in May 2018. Wan Hai has a stake in the terminal.


“PIL’s new direct service from the Port of Oakland is a good sign of increasing demand on Vietnam routes,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “Vietnam is showing strong growth in its import and export markets.”


‘In 2018, Vietnam was the Port of Oakland’s third largest import market and fifth largest export market. When measured by volume, American exports to Vietnam from Oakland have grown by 126% since 2015. Oakland imports from Vietnam have grown 29% since 2015. The new PIL service route between the Port of Oakland and Vietnam is in response to Vietnam’s expanding import and export markets,” the port added.

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