Tai­wan boosts ex­ports to L.A.

Up to a third of cargo at area ports was made in China by Tai­wanese firms, a report says.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Tif­fany Hsu tif­fany.hsu@la­times.com Times staff writer Don Lee in Wash­ing­ton con­trib­uted to this report.

China may be the top trad­ing part­ner for the L.A. area’s huge ports, but it’s get­ting a big boost from Tai­wan.

As much as a third of the im­ports com­ing into the ports of Los An­ge­les and Long Beach from the Asian gi­ant are pro­duced by Tai­wanese com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing on main­land China, ac­cord­ing to a report re­leased Wed­nes­day at a trade con­fer­ence in Long Beach.

The data, is­sued by the Los An­ge­les County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp., showed in­creas­ing in­flu­ence from Tai­wan on the lo­cal econ­omy.

Los An­ge­les could stand to ben­e­fit more sig­nif­i­cantly, econ­o­mists sug­gested, were the small is­land na­tion al­lowed to join a pro­posed 12na­tion trade group known as the Trans-Pacific Part­ner­ship.

Last year, the Los An­ge­les area han­dled more than a quar­ter of the trade be­tween Tai­wan and the U.S., and the value of the goods traded reached $17 bil­lion, up 7.8% from a year ear­lier. Tai­wan ranks be­hind China, Ja­pan and Korea as the re­gion’s fourth-largest trad­ing part­ner, ac­cord­ing to the report.

Tai­wan’s econ­omy has been weak­ened re­cently by the slow­down in China and the re­ces­sion in Europe. But last year, Tai­wanese im­ports, much of them com­puter and elec­tronic prod­ucts, surged 9% in the Los An­ge­les area to $9.5 bil­lion, the high­est level since 2007.

Lo­cal ex­ports to Tai­wan rose 6.4% last year to $7.6 bil­lion. The record high was built on aero­space goods as well as trans­porta­tion and agriculture prod­ucts.

Trade re­la­tions be­tween Tai­wan and the U.S. — es­pe­cially Cal­i­for­nia — are “very close,” Tai­wan Pres­i­dent Ma Ying Jeou told The Times in an in­ter­view last month in Taipei.

The Asian govern­ment has des­ig­nated ad­vi­sors to main­tain re­la­tion­ships in Sil­i­con Val­ley, he said. The na­tion also eased its reg­u­la­tions for re­view­ing for­eign in­vest­ment ap­pli­ca­tions.

To fur­ther the re­la­tion­ship with the U.S., Ma said he hopes that Tai­wan will be al­lowed to join the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship.

Join­ing a ma­jor re­gional trade al­liance that in­cludes the U.S., Ja­pan and South Korea would give Tai­wan greater ac­cess to for­eign mar­kets and help the is­land econ­omy di­ver­sify and rely less on main­land China, a ma­jor risk for Tai­wan.

Talks on a Pacific trade deal are in the fi­nal stages and could be con­cluded this sum­mer, so it prob­a­bly would be at least sev­eral years be­fore Tai­wan and other par­ties could be added to it

Tai­wan faces the ad­di­tional po­lit­i­cal hur­dle of op­er­at­ing in the shadow of China. Bei­jing re­gards the is­land as part of its ter­ri­tory and has frowned at the idea of Tai­wan be­com­ing a part of a re­gional trade group that ex­cludes China and is led by the U.S.

Econ­o­mist Fer­di­nando Guerra, who helped au­thor the LAEDC report, said that al­low­ing Tai­wan to join the part­ner­ship would cre­ate jobs and boost ac­tiv­ity at Los An­ge­les ports.

“Ul­ti­mately, for our re­gion,” he said, “the im­pact will be pos­i­tive, though maybe not nec­es­sar­ily for other parts of the coun­try.”

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