Port steps up its focus on international business relations

Whether it’s sponsoring a conference on doing business with China, developing new ties with ports in Viet Nam or Morocco, hosting a delegation from Japan, or sponsoring an investment seminar about opportunities in Indonesia, the Port of Oakland is stepping up its efforts to further develop its international connections. On June 7 the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners voted to establish a dedicated office in Shanghai, China to further develop its business in China.

The Port maintained a network of international representatives until 2002, and has since marketed its facilities and services through Oakland-based staff with a combination of regular business trips and trade missions. However, with the growth in international trade, in particular with China, it is an opportune time for the Port to make this commitment. The new office will have a full-time, Shanghai resident as a representative. In addition, Port staff will directly manage and coordinate the representative’s strategies and activities relative to China.

Port Board President Kenneth S. Katzoff said, “The opening of the Shanghai office is part of the Port of Oakland’s ongoing efforts to expand international relations and marketing of the Oakland seaport.”

Katzoff added, “With the growth in manufacturing overseas we see this as an important step that will foster the relationships we have with our maritime partners in China. The Port of Oakland has had a longstanding commitment with China and we intend to develop that further to grow our business.”

The Port of Oakland’s Director of Maritime Wilson Lacy explained that the direct, on-site coordination of the Shanghai office by port staff is significantly different from what the Port has done in the past and from what other US ports are doing, “In addition to the representative’s traditional duties of information gathering and increasing visibility, the Shanghai office will coordinate directly with the Port’s Maritime Division and will be responsible for the development of new business.

The Port’s objective is to initiate a direct “shuttle” service linking Shanghai and Oakland.” There will be a representative in place July 1, 2006 and the grand opening of the China office will be in September of this year. The Port’s China representative would help develop Oakland’s relationships not only in Shanghai, but also in Dalian, Hong Kong and Beijing. That representative would actively market for both the Port’s maritime and aviation divisions with potential business partners in China.

China has rapidly grown and is now one of the leading producers and exporters of consumer products in the world.

Looking at tonnage that moves through the Port of Oakland (imports and exports), 77% of it is moving between Oakland, California and the Far East (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea). In addition to the Port’s office in Shanghai, Oakland already has active and on-going formal relations with the Ports of Dalian, China; Yokohama and Hakata, Japan; Keelung, Taiwan; Danang and Saigon, Vietnam; Melbourne, Australia; and perhaps in the very near future, Tanjung Priok, Indonesia.

Expanding global position

The Port of Oakland’s Executive Director Jerry Bridges stated, “Our new office in China along with trade missions, sister-port relations, and negotiations with the Asian-based ocean carriers serving the US market will boost our presence in Asia and enhance our capability of serving our overseas customers. All of these efforts are anticipated to generate new business, help the Port of Oakland expand its global position and help us remain a significant economic engine for Oakland and the region.”

In September of 2005 the Ports of Oakland and Yokohama co-hosted a trade promotion event in Japan celebrating the 25th anniversary of their sister-port relationship. In 2006 the Port sponsored the China Conference in April, a Vietnam promotion seminar in coordination with the Port of Danang, and the “New Investmen