Imports at Long Beach Rise in June

In a continuing sign of the trade imbalance between the U.S. and its foreign trade partners, the rate of inbound cargo at the Port of Long Beach grew in June while export rates fell, officials said.

Imports at the nation's busiest foreign trade harbor were up 6% over last year, while outbound freight dropped by 4%. June's import volume of 194,410 20-foot cargo containers was just 11,230 units shy of the port's inbound level for May, which posted a 26% year-over-year increase. The May jump was attributed to renewed fervor among retailers for buying foreign goods after they let inventories dwindle earlier in the year for fear of waning consumer confidence.

For the first half of the year, import rates at Long Beach grew 14%, while export rates stayed more or less steady at -0.5%. Temporary spikes in foreign demand for U.S. cotton and wastepaper helped keep the figure from sinking lower, port marketing manager Hal Hilliard said.

Export rates for the first half of 1999 at the Port of Los Angeles, the second-busiest harbor after Long Beach, were down 5%, while import rates grew by 8%.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles port said it moved a record number of cargo containers for the fiscal year ended June 30. The Port of Long Beach's fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Officials there say it's on target to report a record year as well.

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