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Port of Los Angeles setting a record pace for exports

August 12, 2011 | 11:47 am

The nation's busiest seaport, Los Angeles, is on pace to have a record year in exports, officials announced Friday.

POLA2 Exports through the harbor in July were up 12.8% to 165,135 containers, from 146,369 a year ago. In 2010, the No. 1 ranked container port set a record for exports with more than 1.8 million containers, but is so far on pace to surpass that total.

"We are pleased with the numbers. This is a robust total for exports, especially when you consider that last year was our best for that category," said Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

Even with the strong showing for exports, however, the nation's huge trade deficit was again apparent. There were more than twice as many imports moving through the port in July, even though the numbers represented a decline of 3.2% to 357,668 containers, from 369,389 a year earlier.

Empty containers represented the biggest drop at the port, down 23% to 165,523 containers, from 214,988 a year ago. Empties are usually headed back to Asia to be later refilled by more imports, but the large number of export containers meant that fewer empties needed to be shipped back.

Overall, the port moved 688,326 cargo containers in July, off 5.8% from a year ago.

Sanfield said that port officials were not worried that the numbers represented a slowdown in the economy. He pointed out that the port experienced an unusually heavy cargo season last summer as retailers rushed to replenish record low product inventories left depleted after the Great Recession. This year, the heaviest months for cargo aren't expected to begin until September.

For the year, the Port of Los Angeles is still slightly ahead of its 2010 pace through July. The port has moved just under 4.5 million containers through the first seven months of 2011, an increase of 1.4% compared with the same period last year. That's already more than all but two other U.S. ports will move during the entire year. Only second-ranked Long Beach and third-ranked New York-New Jersey will exceed that total this year.

When considered as a single harbor, Los Angeles and neighboring Long Beach rank as the world's sixth-busiest seaport complex.

--Ronald D. White

Photo courtesy of the Port of L.A.

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