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Port of Oakland Reports Busiest Quarter on Record

Mike Schuler
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May 6, 2021

The Port of Oakland on the U.S. West Coast says containerized trade volume reached record levels in the first quarter of 2021 as the non-stop trade surge pushed both imports and exports to record-breaking levels.

The port reported today its total volume from January through March equaled 631,119 20-foot containers, topping the Port’s previous record of 612,151 set in Q1 2019.

Officials said the surge reflects unprecedented activity levels in trade between the U.S. and Asia, which currently shows no sign of letting up.

In March, the Port of Oakland said it handled record import and export volume. April totals aren’t due for two weeks, but the port expects another strong report.

“Our business has been growing for nearly a year now,” said Port of Oakland’s Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “Based on the evidence, we expect the trend line to keep going up.”

The Port of Oakland expressed further trade growth optimism due to near-record freight rates on the transpacific, full ships, and long wait times due to crowded berth space.

“Industry analysts attribute the ongoing trade surge to a recovering U.S. economy. Much of the momentum, they say, comes from the coronavirus-weary public. Economists and others say consumers are spending to counter the frustration of lockdowns – a phenomenon known as retail therapy. That’s spurring manufacturers and retailers to replenish warehouse inventories with goods sourced in Asia,” the port said in statement.

“Asia accounts for most of Oakland’s containerized trade volume. The Port introduced two new vessel services in the first quarter linking the U.S. to Asian ports.”

The Port of Oakland is the busiest port on the West Coast behind the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

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