Positive Trends in Southern California’s International Trade Growth

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After economic turmoil in Southern California, and in the entire country, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s (LACEDC) most recent June 2014 report on international trade in the region contained some welcome news.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were listed as the United States’ top gateways for international trade in 2013. Indeed, 40 percent of the nation’s containers pass through Southern California’s twin ports. Container traffic through the twin ports is expected to rise 5.5 percent in 2014 and 5.8 percent in 2015. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled 14.6 million containers in 2013—up 3.4 percent from 2012.

The Los Angeles Customs District (LACD) two-way trade hit $414.5 billion in 2013, due to activity at the San Pedro ports and Los Angeles International Airport. LACD’s two-way trade is forecasted to grow by 3 percent in 2014 and 5 percent in 2015. California’s export trade in April 2014 topped $14.09 billion, up 7.8 percent from the prior year.

The top export categories moving out of the LACD in 2013 were computers, peripherals, machinery and parts; electrical equipment, TVs and parts, aircraft, spacecraft and parts; and medical, surgical and dental instruments. The most valuable import categories were computers, peripherals, machinery and parts; electrical equipment, TVs and parts, motor vehicles and parts; and refined oil products and natural gas.

The LACEDC also notes that investment into Los Angeles County from China has doubled over the past five years, with China becoming one of the county’s top investors. China was also LACD’s largest trading partner in 2013, with two-way trade of $173.1 billion. Japan ranked second to China as LACD’s largest trading partner, with a 9.9 percent decrease in two-way trade from 2012. South Korea came in as LACD’s third largest trading partner, with Taiwan and Germany rounding out the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.  

These statistics demonstrate how important and crucial international trade is for Southern California, showing the region's prominence in the international trade arena. LACEDC’s report suggests that trade is expected to improve in 2014 and 2015, as economies at home and abroad continue to rebound.

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