Seling to Asian Middle Class? Your Numbers are UP!

Trade stats from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach show this gateway to Asia is handling 20% more outbound cargo than last year. This is good news if you’re a) making and selling the products that are in demand by growing middle classes in Asia; and b) if you make your money by transporting, packing and certifying said goods. Local economies that service and support global ports shares the wealth of a market uptick, handling the products that flow through those ports. More tonnage equals more revenue.

Eastbound products signal recovery in export sector

As of September — the most recent month for which statistics are available — the state ports exported more than $12.3 billion to foreign markets, an increase of 19% over the year before, through its harbors and airports. (See LA Times report) We’re all climbing out of the trade hole together – manufacturers, resellers, logistics teams.

Yes, imports into said ports are still down, but remember what a sales pro you are: take the export growth uptick and run with it to counter sales decreases. If you are in charge of building global sales channels to reach consumers in these markets, make sure you’ve got an eye on your partners there. Unlike the EU and North America, these markets have less ground to regain after the 2008 recession, and consumers are moving fast to increase their living standards by buying coveted US goods.

Before you ship your containers Eastbound, get on a plane and visit your targeted countries. Recruit and train channel partners in person… back up the high quality claims about your products with high quality partnership management. Remember that global tech giants like Cisco claim more than 75% of their annual revenue through channel partners. If it works for them, it can work for your company.

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Southern California’s Trade and Transportation Hubs

Since Hanson Marketing belongs to the Advocacy Committee at World Trade Center San Diego, I felt compelled to join the WTC’s excursion last month for an up-close tour of the infrastructure at the Port of Los Angeles, both rail and sea. Well, more than compelled… delighted, actually. Getting to see and learn about the inter-modal freight facilities and the working waterfronts of southern California’s ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego is my idea of fun.

Union Pacific Intermodal Facility

Port of Los Angeles


Being the proud son of a railroad family, I was eager to visit the Union Pacific Railroad Intermodal Transfer Facility, a 277-acre, near-dock rail yard that’s used as a relay point between the ports of LA and Long Beach, and major rail lines. Our crowd got to view the whole operation from a tower meeting room. Cargo containers are unloaded dockside and shuttled to waiting trucks, which convey them to the rail yard. Gantry cranes pluck the containers and place them on waiting flat cars, depending upon their destination (east or north, mostly) From the water, to a truck, to a train and back again… all this takes place within a few square miles. The UP is proud to report that they’re converting many of their infrastructure to electric fuel, reducing air and noise pollution and improving efficiency.

Port's non-stop traffic from all points


Containers shuttle from water to truck to rail


Next, we got on board a launch for the best on-water tour I’ve experienced. The Port of Los Angeles is, no lie, THE gateway to international commerce for the United States. Its cargo operation volume is record-setting, even as it strives to initiate and comply with 21st-century environmental regulations. Not to mention the ever-increasing security measures for cargo and personnel.

Port of Los Angeles, Oct '10


While on board, I struck up a conversation with Mr. Jim McLellan of the Port of Los Angeles, which made my tour even better. Jim’s had a career in global logistics that’s taken him from his native Quebec to the UK and the US. Besides being active in the Southern California District Export Council (a fellow DEC member!) Jim has a broad knowledge and keen interest in the history of the Port of Los Angeles. He pointed out the oldest facilities that handled freight and passenger cargo starting more than 100 years ago. He’s promised to write a book on the rough-and-tumble, yet romantic-sounding travel across the Pacific in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I’m holding him to that book!

Our excellent day trip ended at a reception and scholarly presentation hosted by the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) housed at California State University Long Beach. Of note was a presentation on the Panama Canal Expansion, and its impact on West Coast ports, jobs, and cargo volume.

It’s World Trade Week!

As you read this, about 31 million Americans are at work in jobs that are directly supported by international trade. Nearly one in every five U.S. jobs are linked to exports and imports of goods and services.
Contrary to popular belief, the United States remains the world’s largest manufacturer. Since NAFTA was launched, U.S. manufacturers have boosted their output by more than 50%; U.S. factories account for over 20% of the worlds manufacturing output. Indeed, in California alone, more than 700,000 jobs are supported by the $117 billion in manufactured exports from the state to the rest of the world.

This week-long observance of the absolute relevance of international trade to the US economy began in 1926 – like today, a most notable period of economic angst and isolationist leanings. The idea was hatched by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, who sought ways to promote growth for the booming southern Cal region and the new Port of Los Angeles.

Hat’s off to the resourceful folks at the US Chamber of Commerce whose website, TradeRoots.org, is chock full of trade data.

This month, the southern Cal region is still on it. In the remaining days of May, there will be gatherings in Santa Ana (Mexico Trade Outlook) and downtown LA (The Americas Business Forum) featuring some progressive, hard-working teams of government and trade officials. I will attend both, and will let you know how they go!

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