Tariff threat clouds outlook for Oakland port’s container shipping

Port of Oakland

President Trump’s threat to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. is clouding the outlook for the peak season for container shipping at the Port of Oakland, Port officials said on Tuesday.

However, Port officials said they remain confident that they can handle the annual cargo crush from August through November. “The Port is operating efficiently, ships are getting in and out on time and cargo is moving without delay,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said in a statement. Driscoll added, “We don’t see that changing in the coming months.”

The Port said it won’t project volume for the busy shipping period when imports increase to support holiday merchandising. But it said Oakland marine terminals where ships load and unload are reporting uninterrupted operations and they expect cargo to continue flowing unfettered through the peak season.

Trade analysts say West Coast peak season containerized imports will grow from 1 to 3 percent, which is modest compared to big jumps during the peak season last year when importers front-loaded against expected tariffs, according to the Port.

The new round of tariffs proposed by the Trump Administration that could take effect next month are a wildcard, Port officials said.

Nonetheless, ships are routinely arriving on time this summer and completing cargo operations within 24 hours and import containers are generally delivered to cargo owners within one to three days of vessel discharge, according to Port officials. In addition, average transaction times for truck drivers at Oakland’s three international marine terminals range from 59 to 75 minutes, which is down from a range of 67 to 92 minutes in January, Port officials said.

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