Mario Cordero MarioCordero

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"I want to declare 2020 the year of collaboration," saidMario Cordero, executive director at thePort of Long Beach, during the annual State of thePort event. Last year, cargo volumes at the Port of Long Beach fellcompared to 2018 as a result of political acrimony with China. Thisyear, to push past obstacles, the port is leaning on its labor andtenants.

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"At the end of the day, we need to be ready for whatever maycome. We need to compete; we need to innovate; we need to lead; andmost of all, we need to collaborate," said Cordero.

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Last year, the port faced challenges as a result of the tradetariffs with China. This impacted the Port of Long Beach and LosAngeles the most severely. "This past year, the tariff war withChina—our largest trading partner—escalated. Import and exportorders declined," said Cordero. "Our cargo container volume dropped5% from the previous year to 7.6 million TEUs. Our overall cargotonnage also dropped. Because much of our trade is with China, ourcargo volumes fell behind other US ports that are not as tied tothe Trans-Pacific trade route. Never the less, 2019 was our secondbusiest year for container cargo."

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There is good news ahead. The current administration is workingon easing the current trade tensions; however, the negotiationshaven't totally eased concern. "We have recently seen progress,"said Cordero. "The Trump Administration has just signed a phase-onetrade agreement with China. More markets will open to Americancompanies as China eases tariffs on US goods. US farm and energyexports will increase, still the agreement preserves the bulk ofexisting US tariffs on goods from China. Uncertainty remains withinthe industry."

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While these disputes have significantly impacted cargo activityat the port, the overall economic outlook for the US is strong, andthe country is positioned for stability in the year ahead. "As wewill await further progress, economic fundamentals remain strong,"said Cordero. "Unemployment, interest rates and inflation are low.I see better times ahead, but weakness in global trade slowed USmanufacturing in the last half of 2019 and business investment hasdeclined."

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The combination of market fundamentals and the team at the Portof Long Beach has renewed confidence in cargo activity this year."A key component to our competitive edge is the productivity andskill of our tenants and labor," said Cordero. "This is why thePort of Long Beach is the port of choice. We have the bigterminals, the tallest cranes and deep water, and our terminaloperators, long shore workers, rail operators, truckers and otherstakeholders are world class."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.