Strategic observation

Interview: Trade with China key to U.S. port businesses

2018-09-14 22:48:35 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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NEW ORLEANS, the United States, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese trading partners are vital to the development of U.S. port businesses and long-term U.S.-China collaboration is mutually beneficial, a senior U.S. port official has said.

"China is a very important trading partner. We shipped about 12 million tons of cargo to China last year. That's not a small amount," said Paul Aucoin, executive director of the Port of South Louisiana, the largest tonnage port in the United States, during a recent interview with Xinhua.

Situated on the Mississippi River in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana, the port is a trade superhub.

In 2017, the port handled about 148 million short tons of commodities involving businesses with around 90 countries across the world.

China is the top trading partner in terms of the port's exports and ranks fifth in imports, according to statistics from the Port of South Louisiana.

"Our balanced trade balance with China is very good from this port's perspective because of the amount of grain that we export to China," Aucoin said, adding his port highly values the cooperation with its Chinese counterparts.

With its jurisdiction snaking 54 miles (87 km) from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, the Port of South Louisiana has long benefited from trade.

Among the 30,000 employees in the port area, the majority of them are reliant on international commerce, according to the Port of South Louisiana.

However, Aucoin said the trade hub was increasingly concerned about the consequences of the U.S. tariff policy.

In the first quarter of 2018, the amount of traded goods into and out of the port decreased -- animal feed exports declined 31 percent from the same period last year, soybean exports down 20 percent, and imports of chemicals and fertilizers down 50 percent, according to data from the port.

The traded volume rebounded some in the second quarter.

In the first half of 2018, its total amount of traded goods dropped about 3 percent.

"We prefer not to have tariffs and go back to the way we were with regular trade among all countries," said Aucoin, while warning that tariffs could cause a drop in tonnage, a drop in jobs, a drop in crops, and a drop in everything.

It is of mutual interests for the United States and China to come up with some type of trade agreement as quickly as possible, he urged.

Chinese commerce has already been a transformative force in Louisiana's economy, with extensive trade and cross-border investment linking the two more strongly than ever, according to the Louisiana Economic Development website.

China is Louisiana's top export market. In 2016, the Bayou State's exports to China supported 15,500 American jobs, data from the U.S.-China Business Council showed.