AAPA Seaports Advisory

Cargo Statistics: North Carolina, Oakland

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North Carolina Ports Container Volume Grows at Record-setting Pace

North Carolina Ports continues to build on a recent trend of growth after a big boost in container volume at the Port of Wilmington. Container volume is currently up 31 percent in fiscal year 2018, and year to date volume in January and February is up 58 percent.

Throughput capacity at the Port of Wilmington is up at more than 200,000 TEUs during the first eight months of the Port’s FY18, which began in July. To maintain this record setting growth, North Carolina Ports will pump more than $200 million in infrastructure improvement projects including the order of three new neo-Panamax cranes, berth renovations and container yard and turning basin expansion.

The recent investments along with the Authority’s operational efficiencies have led, in part, to the addition of four new container service lines and seven ocean carriers. NC Ports has further opened itself to the global market by joining the USDA’s Southeast In-Transit Cold Treatment Pilot program and embarking on a year-long commitment to receive weekly banana imports.

Port of Oakland Ag Exports are Up 42.7 Percent in Last Four Years

Agricultural exports shipped from Port of Oakland have increased 42.7 percent in volume since 2013. Port officials said that the vigorous growth reflects continued strong overseas demand for U.S. farm goods. They added that export growth could stall if foreign governments tax American goods in retaliation for Trump Administration tariffs.

According to recent data, Oakland ag export volume totaled 375,727 20-foot containers in 2017. That was up from 263,218 containers just four years ago. The Port said that California producers accounted for 55 percent of Oakland farm shipments last year. Japan, China and South Korea were the top-three export destinations.

The Port tracks agricultural shipments closely since export cargo accounts for half of its total volume. Oakland is considered a principal U.S. gateway to overseas markets for two reasons:

  • It’s the last U.S. stop for ships heading back to Asia. That makes it the shortest route to the world’s fastest-growing markets.
  • Oakland is the closest port for producers in California’s Central, Napa and Salinas valleys.

According to Port data, leading export commodities from Oakland in 2017 included California almonds and rice. Oakland expects big increases in meat shipments beginning this fall. The Port said a 283,000-square-foot distribution center called Cool Port Oakland should open in September. The distribution center expects to export up to 30,000 containers of beef, pork and poultry annually. The Port said much of that product would originate in the U.S. Midwest.

The Trump Administration announced that it intends to impose tariffs on some steel and aluminum imports. China responded that it’s considering retaliatory tariffs on a range of U.S. commodities including some farm goods.


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