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A Port of Oakland export that’s winning the trade war

Scrap paper shipments finding new markets, up 3 percent despite headwinds

Press Releases, Seaport
December 6th, 2018

Oakland, Calif. – Dec. 6, 2018: A scrappy little export commodity at the Port of Oakland is winning the battle against global trade headwinds.  The Port said today that scrap paper shipments were up 3 percent in the first 10 months of 2018.

The increase in Oakland’s recyclable paper shipments contrasts with a generally challenging environment for U.S. exports.  That’s important because waste paper is the largest export commodity, measured by container volume, shipped from Oakland.

“We can’t be certain if this trend will last, but the figures seem to show that there’s no loss of demand globally,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.  “It appears that shippers are finding new markets for their scrap paper products.”

The Port said that it shipped the equivalent of 110,400 20-foot containers of wastepaper in 2018 through October.  That accounted for nearly 18 percent of Oakland’s total export volume. Port data shows that nearly all the recyclable paper went to Asia.  The product is used primarily to make packaging for billions of dollars of Asian goods exported to the U.S.

Scrap paper shipments have increased this year despite trade pressures that include:

  • A rising U.S. dollar making American products more expensive overseas;
  • The U.S.-China tariff standoff; and
  • China’s new, tougher quality standards for foreign scrap products.

China, Oakland’s No. 1 trade partner, has reduced scrap paper shipments from the Port by 37 percent this year.  Neighboring Asian countries have picked up the slack.  Oakland scrap exports to Taiwan are up 522 percent in 2018 with shipments to Vietnam up 344 percent.

The Port said scrap metal exports have increased 10 percent in 2018.  It said that shipments of the commodity to China have slumped 43 percent.  That loss has been largely offset by increased shipments to Taiwan, Vietnam and India.

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 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. 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
Port of Oakland
Communications Director
(510) 627-1565
mzampa@portoakland.com

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

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