Major Port of Oakland project could have $1 billion upside

A Port of Oakland infrastructure project could boost economic output by $1 billion while improving agricultural export flow.

That’s the conclusion of

Washington State University economists studying a proposed $515 million fix for a major port gateway. Researchers from WSU’s Policy Transportation


Institute said this month that upgrading the port’s Seventh Street entrance would provide myriad benefits. Among them: • A $1.1

billion boost in

economic output for Oakland and surrounding counties; • 375 new jobs; and • An improved supply chain

for U.S. exporters, especially those shipping farm goods overseas. WSU Associate Prof. Eric

>> 24

the issue of food exports,

given California’s agricultural abundance

that includes

more than 400 commodities. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California.


Los Angeles Times recently reported that California’s booming wine exports to China, which compete with wines from New Zealand and Chile, have met with a major hurdle as China imposed retaliatory tariff on US wine imports. Retaliatory tariffs would also impact California’s nut industry. For example, nearly all US pistachios are grown in the groves of California’s San Joaquin Valley and 70% are sold for export. Market intelligence group Panjiva indicates that Chinese eat almost half of America’s pistachio export, and that pistachios, along with $175 million worth of nuts are set for new taxes. This

summer’s horrific

fires have also impacted local markets and caused escalating food

prices due to food

shortages Zampa reports that ag

shippers continue to use the Port of Oakland as their leading gateway.

“For instance, just

about 60% of all US edible nut exports are shipped from the Port of Oakland,” he says. Statewide

and industry wide, the US Department of

Jessup presented his findings last week to tree nut exporters at a U.S. Department of Agriculture- sponsored symposium.


university and USDA are hosting four workshops around the country to advance the process of prioritizing infrastructure projects. The focus is on projects that improve agricultural export supply chains. The port is working with

Alameda County’s Transportation Commission to eliminate cargo- hauling bottlenecks at Seventh Street. The thoroughfare is a major gateway on the Port’s westside. Seventh Street fixes would

include separating freight rails from the street, heightening and widening underpass clearance and introducing technology to ease traffic congestion.

Commerce indicates that in 2017, California exports amounted to $171.9 billion -- an increase from the 2016 total of $163.5 billion. Exports from California

accounted for 11% of total US exports in 2017. Given that California’s top export destinations are Mexico, Canada, China, Japan and Hong Kong, there’s plenty of room for tariffs, trade wars and negotiations for new trade pacts to affect California’s import and export volumes. Besides ag products and

resins, California is well known as this nation’s top exporter for computers, electronic products, transportation equipment, machinery except electrical, and miscellaneous manufactured commodities. Computers and electronic products are California’s top export, accounting for 25.4% of all the state’s exports. Other top categories included agricultural products, chemicals, food manufactures, and electrical equipment. Any fallout from today’s

political environment will no doubt be reflected in California’s trade figures and ultimately its economy. But this short sited vision does not stop California ports from innovating and preparing for handling tomorrow’s large steamships and escalating trade volumes as the state will remain a leader in global commerce.

work is underway on the project. The port and county are seeking federal grants to finance the work that could go on until 2023. Prof. Jessup said improving

Seventh Street would help tree nut producers - and other exporters - move shipments more efficiently to overseas markets. “In the past

five years, the Port of Oakland is the No. 1 US port for containerized edible nut exports,” he said. “But landside access inefficiencies constrain growth.” Oakland handles 59 % of all US

edible nut exports, Prof. Jessup said. The port is adjacent to the Central and San Joaquin valleys where most of the nation’s $7.6 billion worth of nut exports are produced.

The crop includes almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Nuts

Issue 7 2018 - FBJNA are the U.S. agricultural export.

third-largest Nuts

and dried fruits are the Port of Oakland’s second-largest export category. “These are high-value exports

produced almost in our back yard,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “It’s important that we do a good job with the shipments because the industry depends on us to access foreign markets.”

25 Oakland is considered a leading

agricultural export gateway because of its proximity to California’s fertile growing regions. According to the port, growers also choose Oakland because of its position on the Pacific Rim. Oakland is the last US stop for many container ships before they return to Asian markets.

means exports loaded in Oakland spend less time on the ocean, thereby extending shelf life.



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