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Exports at two major U.S. ports approach pre-recession record
Date: 2010/12/14 Click: 1149

Spurred by demand from developing countries like China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, exports at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are on track to approach the records set before the global recession, newly released figures showed.

Through October, the L.A. and Long Beach ports have moved 2.8 million export-carrying cargo containers, up 20 percent from the same period last year, according to figures published on Friday by The Los Angeles Times on its website.

If that pace continues through the end of the year, the two ports will handle about 3.4 million containers, which would rank second only to the 3.5 million moved in 2008, the report said, quoting figures from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. (LACEDC) which focuses on international trade.

The increase in exports was mainly driven by growing demand from new middle-class consumers in China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries, said Ferdinando Guerra, an associate economist at LACEDC.

"The middle class in these countries have begun to thrive," Guerra said. "Their countries are not really in recovery because they did not suffer as much as we did in the recession and their consumers are in a much better position overall."

Imports are growing rapidly too, but both ports will fall well short of their 2007 best, according to the report.

Meanwhile, air freight exports through the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) peaked at 457,899 U.S. tons in 2007, but the pace this year is running nearly 4 percent ahead of that, the report said, citing figures from Beacon Economics, a consulting firm.

Monetary value of exports was higher in 2007, but "the logistics industry makes money by moving weight and volume," said Jock O' Connell, international trade advisor for Beacon Economics.

California exporters racked up their best October ever, shipping 12.91 billion dollars in goods abroad during the month, up 16.5 percent from October 2009 and 1.1 percent better than the previous high for the month in October 2007, according to Beacon Economics.

Those are good signs for the local economy, despite a less robust showing by imports, which account for the bulk of cargo traffic through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, said th report.

As export-driven sales growth is helping to lead the region's rebound, international trade provides work for more than 500,000 people in Southern California, according to the report.

Nationwide, the trade deficit narrowed more than anticipated in October, with exports jumping 3.2 percent and imports declining 0.5 percent, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The trade gap fell to 38.7 billion dollars from a revised 44.6 billion for September, the department said.

This was below analysts' estimate for October of 43.6 billion, which suggests stronger U.S. economic growth, The Times said.

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