U.S.: California port's ag exports rise despite tariffs

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U.S.: California port's ag exports rise despite tariffs

Containerized agricultural exports are rebounding in spite of the ongoing trade war with China, California's Port of Oakland reported today. 

The Port said farm good shipments in the first four months of 2019 increased 12% over last year. It added that agricultural exports to China rose 5%, despite the nation’s tariff standoff with the U.S. 

These trends are a welcome change after Oakland’s worldwide agricultural exports declined 10% in 2018, it explained.

“It’s too soon to declare victory in this segment given the trade outlook,” said Port of Oakland's maritime director John Driscoll.  “But our performance so far this year shows two things: there’s continued demand for U.S. farm goods and growers are resourceful when it comes to finding markets for their products.”

Through April, the Port said it had exported the equivalent of 108,724 20-foot-containers loaded with farm products. That figure is a notable increase from the 97,376 containers exported during the same period last year. 

What's more, the average value per container of its agricultural export commodities is up from 2018 as well. This year, it was $36,000 compared with $31,500 a year ago.

Asian markets favorable for ag exports

According to Port data, most of its 2019 shipments have gone to Asia so far.

The Port commented that increased export volume reflects the growth of Asia’s middle class.  As populations gain purchasing power, they turn to U.S. farm goods renowned for high quality, it explained.

Most of the growth in Oakland agricultural exports occurred in Asian markets outside China, it said. Its leading destinations include Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. 

The Port said U.S. producers have turned to those destinations since China imposed tariffs on American farm goods, making them more expensive for overseas buyers.

Today, agricultural commodities account for about 37% of all international exports shipped from Oakland. 

The farm goods range from containerized rice to dried fruits, nuts and refrigerated beef. Roughly 11% of Oakland’s agricultural shipments have gone to China so far this year, the Port commented. 

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