Bay Area/ Oakland/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on February 26, 2024
Oakland Seaport Experiences Surge in Cargo, Import Volume Jumps 8.2% in JanuarySource: Daniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oakland's seaport is bustling with more cargo than ever before, continuing a surge that's been building steam since last year. According to the Port of Oakland, container volume for January 2024 saw a significant bump, with full imports climbing 8.2% from the same time last year.

The numbers don't lie: the port handled 72,081 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) this January, which is a sharp increase from the 66,637 TEUs documented in January 2023. Full exports also experienced a boost, racking up 62,596 TEUs, which is 9.3% more than the preceding year. Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes shared that "Imports benefitted from strong consumer demand, as well as the normal seasonal uptick each January prior to factories in Asia closing for the Lunar New Year".

January's strong showing isn't all about full containers though. Empty imports saw a slight decrease of 1.1%, with this year's figure sitting at 17,117 TEUs compared to 17,299 TEUs in January 2023. However, the drop was more drastic for empty exports, which plunged 24.5%, as this January closed with 28,694 TEUs against last year's 38,014.

Explaining the reason behind the export surge, Brandes noted, "The increase in export volume can be partially attributed to consumer demand in Asia remaining high for U.S. agricultural exports." Despite these spikes, the port seems to be sending back fewer empty containers than before, indicating a change in the balance of trade flows. These figures may reflect a range of economic factors, from trade policies to consumer trends both domestic and abroad.