by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Port of Long Beach, U.S. second busiest port, is committed to being a force for stability, sustainability and growth by building bridges to the country's biggest trading partners in Asia.
"For us, it's important to have an excellent relationship with the biggest trade region for the United States, which is Asia - specifically China," the Port of Long Beach's Executive Director Mario Cordero told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
"I am proud of the Port of Long Beach," Cordero told Xinhua.
"Despite COVID-19 and ongoing trade tariff issues, we've continued to stay open to complete and achieve our mandate and make sure our operation continues to work well, because waterborne international trade goods that move through our port and across our bridge have a positive impact on everyone's economy," he continued.
Hoping to build on an unexpected shipping surge, on Oct. 5, the Port of Long Beach unveiled its long-awaited replacement of the iconic Gerald Desmond Bridge as part of a roster of important environmentally-sustainable green-port projects that the port will continue to implement throughout 2020 and 2021. The projects are designed to modernize port facilities and speed up and enhance container movement through the port.
Originally built in 1968 as a "through arch" bridge constructed of steel girders and named for Long Beach City Attorney Gerald Desmond, the 155-foot-high (around 47 meters) Gerald Desmond Bridge was redesigned and replaced in 2020 with a 1.47-billion-U.S.-dollar bridge with twin 515-foot (around 157 meters) towers, the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the United States, and the first of its kind in California.
Now 205 feet (around 62 meters) above the sea-channel shipping lane, the new Gerald Desmond serves as a symbolic bridge to the future for the Port of Long Beach by enabling the port to accommodate the next generation of "supersized" cargo ships that are beginning to ply international trade routes, some carrying more than 19,000 containers.
"This iconic bridge and our other capital improvements were identified from the very beginning as having national significance for the entire country," Cordero said, referring to the more than 8 million containers of trade goods that pass through the Port of Long Beach to be shipped to every corner of the United States in a year.
The twin ports of the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles in the San Pedro Bay Port Complex handle approximately 40 percent of all containerized imports and 30 percent exports for the United States.
"There's no state in America and no Congressional district that isn't affected by trade through the Port of Long Beach," Cordero noted.
The Port of Long Beach hopes their ambitious, future-facing plans will enable them to play a leading role in building a better, more productive, and more stable future for U.S. and global economy.
With 175 shipping lines connecting Long Beach to 217 seaports, the port located 45 km south of downtown Los Angeles handles 200 billion U.S. dollars in trade annually.
Although the twin ports see their largest cargo numbers from August through October as retailers prepare for holiday shoppers, both of them are anticipating overall 2020 volumes to be less than 2019.
Cordero said that there are certainly legitimate trade issues to be worked out between the United States and China - the world's two economic superpowers. Witnessing firsthand the negative impact of tariff implementations on U.S. businesses and workers over the last two years, Cordero said he and other port officials have seen that tariffs are not the right approach.
"The reason we have free trade is that while it furthers relationships between countries, it also allows goods and products to become available to the American public to meet consumer demand at affordable prices," Cordero explained.
"Tariffs increase what American consumers pay... and that doesn't end well," he warned. Enditem.