Port of Oakland, California-Water Gateway

Port of Oakland, California-Water Gateway

The maritime Port of Oakland is the nation’s ninth busiest waterborne freight gateway for international merchandise trade by value of shipments. And it is our nineteenth busiest gateway by value when compared with all U.S. freight gateways—land, air, and sea.

In 2003, merchandise trade passing through the Port of Oakland ($25 billion) accounted for 3 percent of the value of total U.S. international waterborne trade. These freight shipments ac­counted for nearly 4 percent of all U.S. waterborne exports and 3 percent of imports. Inbound shipments accounted for 69 percent and outbound shipments 31 percent of the value of freight that the port handled in 2003.

By weight, the facility ranks thirty-third among all water gateways, handling 10 million tons, which accounts for about one percent of total U.S. international waterborne freight. Because the port’s imports are higher in value per ton than its exports, imports accounted for a higher share of the port’s cargo by value, even though exports accounted for 58 percent of tonnage handled in 2003. Between 1999 and 2003, the tonnage of cargo handled at Oakland rose 10 percent, from 9 million to 10 million tons.

Oakland is primarily a container port, although it handles some noncontainerized cargo. In 2003, the port handled 1 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) carrying international imports and exports. This accounted for 5 percent of U.S. containerized TEUs handled at all our nation’s seaports. Oakland’s containerized cargo was about evenly divided between outbound and inbound shipments. On a typical day, Oakland handles an average of 2,800 TEUs of containerized cargo.

Over 1,800 vessels called at Port of Oakland in 2003. Container vessels were the most frequent type to call at the port, accounting for 94 percent of the total.

China was the port’s leading origin country for imports by weight of shipments in 2003, followed by Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.1 China was the leading destination for exports leaving Oakland, followed by Taiwan, Japan, and Hong Kong. The leading foreign seaports for cargo leaving or arriving at Oakland were Port of Hong Kong, Taiwan’s Kao Hsiung, and South Korea’s Port of Pusan.

In 2003, the top containerized imports were auto parts, iron and steel, wood and related products, and computer equipment and office machinery, while the top exports were waste paper, animal feeds, red meat, and wine.2

1 For official merchandise trade statistics, the Census Bureau reports Hong Kong separately. In this report, China refers to mainland China.

2 The Port of Oakland website, http://www.portofoakland.com/maritime/facts_cargo.asp.