Port of Oakland faces congestion from Coronavirus

Though throughput is increasing at the Port of Oakland, the Coronavirus and subsequent actions taken to minimize the spread are causing serious congestion on the west coast. Reductions in trade threaten to upend trade growth, a huge problem considering the “phase one” trade deal has finally been signed between the US and China. As cargo backs up, equipment becomes scarce and the effects are felt all along the supply chain.

If the blanked and voided sailings of the last few weeks are any indication, it could take a while for exports to China to start moving at a good clip. China may not have reduced its need for imports but outside demands for Chinese exports is falling due to worry about the Coronavirus and labor shortages. People who aren’t working can’t produce exports. Without exports, containers remain empty and if containers are empty, why send a ship? This creates a loop of problems from which it will take time to recover. These conditions impact the Port of Oakland by leaving cargo bound to China to sit, awaiting a ride. With fewer ships headed to Mainland China, there are fewer opportunities to send and return cargo and equipment.

Reefer containers are especially vulnerable as they must remain plugged in once tendered to the port. Some parts of China won’t accept any more reefer containers as they have no spots open for connection. Some rerouting of cargo in Asia will help keep shipments moving and work to alleviate the port congestion we have in the US. We have to remain patient and there is no better way to ensure the smoothest voyage than planning ahead for the cargo journey. By making preparations for equipment in advance we can try to mitigate any surprises.

Feel free to contact your Edward J. Zarach & Associates representative to come up with a plan to keep your cargo moving despite the delays.