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Largest U.S. tonnage port expects closer U.S.-China cooperation

Monday, 18 March 2019 | 13:00

Stable U.S.-China trade ties are vital to the U.S. port industry as China is a key trading partner of the United States, said a senior port official.

“A lot of trading we do is with China. We export more to China than any other country,” Paul Aucoin, executive director of the Port of South Louisiana, the largest tonnage port in the United States, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

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

“So obviously, from the port’s perspective, good relations with China is very important so far as trade goes,” he said, adding that closer U.S.-China collaboration is mutually beneficial at the national level.

In 2018, the port handled 12 million short tons(about 10.88 million metric ton) of exports to China dominated by grain, chemicals and fertilizers. Meanwhile, it transported 1.4 million short tons(1.2 million metric ton) of Chinese imports.

Aucoin said the port highly values cooperation with its Chinese counterparts since prosperous trading with China benefits grain farmers, shippers and port operations.

Situated on the Mississippi River in the southeastern U.S. state of Louisiana, the Port of South Louisiana is a premier sea gateway for both export and import.

Last year, the port handled more than 303 million short tons(275 metric ton) of commodities involving businesses in over 90 countries. Some 46 percent of the commodities were related directly to foreign trade.

Equipped with seven grain elevators, the Port of South Louisiana is the largest grain exporter in the United States, accounting for more than 50 percent of the nation’s total grain exports, showed statistics from the port.

Farmers from Louisiana and other Midwestern states transport grain to the grain elevators by truck, train or barges before reloading it onto ships which head to the country of destination, Aucoin said.

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

“It’s important that whatever we produce and manufacture here at the port, it can be sold to foreign countries, so trade is very important for us,” said the port official, adding that among the 30,000 employees working in the port area, the majority of whom are reliant on international commerce.

Aucoin said he was “very proud” to have some major Chinese investment anchoring at the port area in recent years.

Shandong Yuhuang Chemical, one of the Chinese companies investing in Louisiana, is constructing a 1.85-billion-U.S. dollar methanol production facility in St. James Parish in the Port of South Louisiana.

Also in the same parish, Shandong Wanhua Chemical Group plans to invest 1.25 billion dollars to develop a methylene diphenyl diisocyanate complex.

“They’re going to employ our river parish workers with a very nice salary,” Aucoin grinned while talking about the lucrative business.

Aucoin said he was “very pleased with” the latest progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations, as the two economies are highly complementary and are able to achieve a win-win outcome.

“My hope is that the two countries could de-escalate any tensions and work together for the benefit of everybody,” he said.
Source: Xinhua

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