The Port of Oakland has assumed a more prominent role in Southeast Asian trade, the port’s executive director Chris Lytle said, announcing that direct vessel calls from Oakland to Southeast Asia have risen by 50 percent this spring.
Direct weekly vessel calls to Southeast Asia have risen from 10-to-15 since April 1. Further highlights that prompted the increase in the number of vessel calls include the first direct vessel service between Oakland and Jakarta, an increase from 2-to-4 weekly voyages linking Oakland with the Port of Laem Chabang near Bangkok; and an added weekly Singapore call enabling more cargo to be transported from nearby Cambodia to Oakland.
“Southeast Asia is a dynamic region with significant export potential and increasing demand for U.S. products,” Lytle said. “It’s imperative that we position ourselves to serve this market.”
Lytle further added that Oakland’s growing Southeast Asian presence coincides with changes to shipping line alliances. Eleven leading ocean carriers realigned in April, sharing vessel services to control costs. One outgrowth of their restructuring was heightened emphasis on Oakland-Southeast Asia trade.
Shipping lines have been drawn to Southeast Asia due to shifting trade patterns, Lytle said. The region has grown as a manufacturing center for U.S. markets, he pointed out. Meanwhile its growing middle class populations have increased demand for U.S. products. The result is an uptick in two-way trade, which should translate to more business for ocean carriers.
”The Port of Oakland, and the state of California more broadly, play a critical role in the United States’ economic relationship with Southeast Asia,” said Alexander Feldman, President and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council.
“California is the largest U.S. exporter to Southeast Asia, with almost USD 16 billion in exports just last year, supporting over 87,000 jobs.”
The two-way trade between the U.S. and Southeast Asia last year totaled USD 273 billion, Feldman said.