Shipping containers are stacked at the Port of Oakland. Port officials are concerned about the long-term economic effects of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr)

While the Port of Oakland continues to bustle with activity and both imports and exports have increased, the international effects of the novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, has port officials casting a wary eye to the future.

Imports jumped 7.3 percent last month over January 2019 totals and exports increased 3.3 percent, port officials said Friday.

The good news, according to port officials, is that the U.S. trade war with China has cooled following a January agreement by China to increase purchases from U.S. farmers, many of whom ship goods though Oakland to Asia.

Also, consumer demand both here an overseas has boosted cargo volume though the port.

The bad news is that since the December outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, international travel and shipping has taken a hit, with airline flight cancellations, travel restrictions and quarantines potentially putting a damper on economic activity.

These measures already appear to have slowed Chinese manufacturing to some degree and have led some shipping lines to cancel upcoming cargo trips, according to port officials.

“The uptick in January was encouraging but we’re hearing from shipping lines that cargo volume could moderate over the next few months,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll.

However, it might take several months to fully understand what the effects of the virus outbreak will have on global shipping and the overall economy, port officials said.

Kiley Russell writes primarily for Local News Matters on issues related to equity and the environment. A Bay Area native, he has lived most of his life in Oakland. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, worked for the Associated Press and the former Contra Costa Times, among other outlets. He has covered everything from state legislatures, local governments, federal and state courts, crime, growth and development, political campaigns of various stripes, wildfires and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.