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Port of Oakland boss states concerns over trade war with China

Chris Lytle letter to U.S. Trade Rep. warns of limits on export market access

Press Releases, Seaport
June 21st, 2019

Oakland, Calif. – June 21, 2019: Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle is sounding an alarm over the trade war with China.  The veteran maritime leader this week warned that tariffs imposed by both sides threaten the U.S. economy.  He added that trade barriers could dry up his customers’ access to a major export market.

“We remain concerned about the impact that tariffs will have on the health of our economy,” the Executive Director wrote in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “To the extent that other countries are stepping in to provide goods that are exported by U.S. businesses to China, the long-term potential for domestic companies to access one of the world’s largest consumer markets will be severely hindered.”

Mr. Lytle’s comments came as the Trump Administration considers additional tariffs in its ongoing trade standoff with China.  The remarks carried added weight from an executive whose career includes running two major ports: Oakland and Long Beach.

The Executive Director signed a second letter – along with 600 other U.S. business leaders – addressed to President Trump.  It called for the Administration to resolve the dispute with China and eliminate tariffs imposed by both sides.

China accounts for more than a third of Oakland’s total trade volume, Mr. Lytle said.  The Port ships large quantities of U.S. farm exports, he said, which are particularly vulnerable to Chinese tariffs.

“The Port of Oakland continues to hear from our partners in the supply chain about specific impacts to their unique sectors,” Mr. Lytle wrote in his letter.  “It’s clear that the overall negative long-term potential impacts of these tariffs on the international movement of agricultural products, manufactured goods, household items and retail products is real.”

Oakland’s boss called on the Trump Administration to avoid imposing tariffs on cargo-handling equipment produced in China.  The Port’s largest marine terminal awaits 2020 delivery of three new ship-to-shore cranes from Shanghai-based ZPMC.

“There is not a comparable domestic producer of ship-to-shore cranes,” Mr. Lytle explained.  “Tariffs could severely impede and/or prevent our marine terminal partners from making the critical infrastructure investments needed to adapt to the changing international trade landscape.”

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 in Northern California. 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:
Mike Zampa,
Communications Director
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1565
mzampa@portoakland.com

Marilyn Sandifur,
Port Spokesperson
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193
msandifur@portoakland.com