Containerized import volume was up 7% year-over-year, but port officials “are concerned about what comes next.”
The Port of Oakland said Thursday that “on the eve of threatened tariff increases,” its import business is still growing and reported a 7% year-over-year increase in containerized import volume in April.
The port said it was the busiest April in its 92-year history.
The port said the trade numbers predated U.S. warnings of increased tariffs on Chinese goods that could take effect Friday. The Trump administration has threatened to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. China is Oakland’s largest trading partner and a tariff hike could dampen import demand while also prompting retaliatory levies on U.S. exports, port officials said.
“We entered this year with uncertainty over the trade outlook, so we’re gratified by the solid performance of import cargo,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “At the same time, all of us involved in global trade are concerned about what comes next.”
The port said that Oakland import volume increased 5.8% through the first four months of 2019. It attributed the gains primarily to continued strong U.S. consumer demand. Oakland’s total cargo volume — imports, exports and empty containers — was up 4.6% so far this year.
The number of ships calling at Oakland in 2019 has declined 8.1%, the port said, pointing out that shipping lines are consolidating more cargo on fewer but larger ships to cut costs.