Port of Oakland shows top transportation leaders future of trade

Oakland, Calif. – September 1, 2021: Top transportation officials learned what it takes to maintain the Port of Oakland’s international trade status – collaboration and transparency. That’s what Port executives discussed with Federal Maritime Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel and California State Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim. The pair joined nearly two dozen shipping leaders for a roundtable on Oakland’s future as a global trade gateway on Monday.

The Port said public/private sector collaboration would be key to strengthening Oakland’s place in the global supply chain and to strengthen the state and federal economies. It asked for support from maritime leaders to streamline seaport operations and collaborate on making the supply chain transparent for customers and operators. 

“Together we can build on trends for increased cargo capacity that are placing Oakland in the spotlight,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “The opportunity is here, if we can agree to seize it.”

The Port said Oakland is breaking containerized cargo handling records midst an unprecedented U.S. import surge.  The boom in volume may become permanent, the Port added, due to factors that include:

  • Oakland’s improved ability to handle the world’s largest container ships;
  • Northern California’s rise as a center for e-commerce distribution; and
  • The Port’s proximity to California’s Central Valley, one of the nation’s predominant agricultural regions of the U.S.

Shipping lines increasingly view Oakland as an essential gateway in the U.S.-Asia trade, the Port said.  As evidence: three carriers have launched first-call Oakland services in 2021.  First-call ports are where vessels from Asia make their first North America stops. Most U.S. imports are discharged at first-call ports.

Port officials told roundtable attendees that increased business has created new jobs in the transportation and logistics sectors. Growth has also posed operational challenges in Oakland, the Port added. There’s a scramble to keep up with the surge in container volume, the Port said. That’s where collaboration comes in, the Port explained.

The Port lauded marine terminal operators who’ve invested millions to update their operations and equipment.  It said more would be needed for big-ticket items such as ship-to-shore cranes.  The Port asked continued fiscal support from government to finance sustainable transportation initiatives to ensure a transition into zero-emissions cargo operations.  It called on waterfront labor and management to continue working together to ensure a skilled workforce to keep operations fluid and cargo moving.

“Ports are essential to the U.S. economy, and just as essential is how they operate” said Commissioner Bentzel. “Operational discussions like this are critical to strengthening our supply chain and improving efficiency to meet current and post-pandemic cargo demand.”

“California’s ports serve as the gateway to the freight world – where cargo is transferred and distributed through the state to the rest of the nation,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary David S. Kim. “As our ports play a major role in economic vitality and environmental stewardship, I’m pleased to join with our federal partners, the Port of Oakland and its operators, shippers and beneficial cargo owners to discuss what’s needed to maintain and increase competitiveness.”

Economic Impact (data prior to pandemic):

  • The Port of Oakland and its business partners support more than 84,000 jobs in the region and more than 1 million related jobs across the country (Martin Associates economic impact study). For example, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union recently added hundreds of casuals to the local workforce this summer to handle the cargo growth at the Port of Oakland.
  • Locally, the activity at the Port of Oakland’s business lines spurs $12.9 billion in yearly economic impact and generates $698 million in annual local taxes.
  • The cargo activity at the Oakland Seaport and Oakland International Airport generate a financial output of more than $117 billion a year.
  • American ports’ cargo activity annually supports 31 million U.S. jobs, creates $5.4 trillion in economic activity, and generates $378 billion in local, state and federal taxes. (American Association of Port Authorities)

About the Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and nearly 20 miles of waterfront including Jack London Square. The Port’s 5-year strategic plan – Growth with Care – pairs business expansion with community benefits, envisioning more jobs and economic stimulus as the Port grows. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 84,000 jobs. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com. 

Media Contacts

Robert Bernardo
Port of Oakland
Communications Director
(510) 627-1401
[email protected] 

Marilyn Sandifur
Port of Oakland
Port Spokesperson
(510) 627-1193
Click here to contact Marilyn Sandifur


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