Consistent with trends set last year, exports are on the rise again in 2017 at the Port of Oakland.Spokesmen told LM today that containerized export volume increased 9 percent last month compared to January 2016. It was the seventh straight month of rising exports in Oakland, and the 12th increase in 13 months. Furthermore, containerized imports increased last month, too, rising 3.6 percent. Overall, loaded container volume at the port was up 6.1 percent.“We’ve been cautiously optimistic about 2017 cargo volumes and this is a solid start to the year,” said Maritime Director John Driscoll. “In particular, we’re gratified by the continued success in our export business.”The port said agricultural commodities continue to drive Oakland export increases. For instance, strong harvests and aggressive marketing helped boost overseas sales of California almonds last month.Import volume increased in January as U.S. shippers stocked inventories ahead of Lunar New Year holidays. Manufacturers in Asia sometimes close factories for up to two weeks. The port’s communications director, Mike Zampa, told LM that the prevailing story is agricultural exports. “They’ve risen 233 percent in Oakland over the last five years,” he says. “They now account for 53 percent of the port’s export volume. The reasons: strong demand in Asia for high-quality U.S. farm goods, improved growing techniques producing better yields among California producers; and aggressive marketing by growers.”Port trade analysts say its “nonstop export rally” is noteworthy because the U.S. dollar remains strong against foreign currencies. A strong dollar typically dampens exports by making U.S. commodities more expensive overseas. The Commerce Department reported this week that the U.S. trade deficit reached a four-year high in 2016. That was attributed in part to export softness. Yet Port of Oakland export volume increased 10.5 percent last year.