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LOS ANGELES-A new report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Council predicts Southern California’s international trade economy will decline further in 2009 before showing a modest rebound next year. For 2009, the report projects a 13.5% decline in container volume at the combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and a 15.8% decline in two-way trade through the Los Angeles Customs District to $300 billion.

According to the report, this year’s decline follows what it calls a “dismal performance in 2008.” However, it forecasts a 1.6% rise in port volumes for next year.

“Two-thousand and eight was a year full of unhappy surprises for the international trade industry,” admits LAEDC chief economist Nancy Sidhu. “The industry saw employment fall by 1.1%, or 5,600 jobs, while industrial vacancy rates spiked up to 9.9% at year-end 2008 in the Riverside-San Bernardino area,” which she describes as a former hotbed of new construction based on speculation that international trade would continue to boom. Unfortunately, she adds, international trade related employment is expected to fall by 9.3%, or 46,000 jobs, this year.

Among other key report findings:

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