Port of Oakland joins coronavirus-caused cargo decline list

The Port of Oakland reported Monday that global trade weakened by the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a year-over-year 10.3% container import decline in March.

The return of empty containers to Asia dropped 23%, the port said, noting that ports all along the U.S. West Coast also reported cargo volume drops in March.

“The worldwide effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 has slowed containerized freight transport,” the Oakland, California, port said in Monday’s short report.

The Port of Long Beach last week blamed the coronavirus for 19 canceled sailings during the first quarter of 2020, and the Port of Los Angeles reported a year-over-year March volume drop of 30.9%.

April volumes on the West Coast are not expected to rebound to precoronavirus levels.

“Amid this public health crisis, there will be uncertain months ahead in the global supply chain,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said last week.

In other March year-over-year figures at the Port of Oakland:

  • The number of ships calling Oakland decreased 10.6%.
  • Loaded container volume declined 7.4%.
  • Export container volume dipped 5%.

The Port of Oakland has been deemed an essential business, and its employees are exempt from stay-at-home orders in Alameda County.

Our operations are critical to the health, safety, infrastructure and economy of our region,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan said last month. “We will continue to function as a vital gateway for global trade and transportation while doing everything possible to protect our employees, customers and business partners.”