Business & Real Estate

Port of Oakland reports dramatic drop in imports, exports

A container ship is guided by tugboats as it arrives at the Port of Oakland to be unloaded Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in Oakland.
A container ship is guided by tugboats as it arrives at the Port of Oakland to be unloaded Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in Oakland. AP

The Port of Oakland, the main portal for numerous Northern California businesses and agriculture products, said this week that cargo volume declined dramatically in January, which officials said was a direct result of a prolonged labor dispute.

The port said shipping container imports were down 39 percent compared with January 2014, and exports declined 26 percent in the same period. Overall cargo volume declined 32 percent year-over-year.

Numerous agricultural companies ship California-grown crops through the Port of Oakland. For example, about 70 percent of California’s almond crop is exported, with nearly 80 percent going through Oakland’s port.

Port officials attributed the decline to slowdowns arising from a months-long dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, both based in San Francisco. PMA has blamed dockworkers for slowing operations at 29 West Coast seaports; the ILWU claims that the PMA has exaggerated the port problems and created gridlock through poor management.

The Port of Oakland said importers have begun diverting containerized cargo to gateways outside the West Coast, including ports in the Southwest, East Coast, Canada and Mexico. Likewise, some exporters are sending merchandise to other U.S. shipping portals, including Houston, Texas.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

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