News / Economy

Japan Earthquake Disrupts Imports, Exports with US

Nissan Juke, sports utility vehicles queue to be loaded onto a freighter at its Oppama factory in Yokosuka, some 40-kilometre south of Tokyo, April 22, 2011
Nissan Juke, sports utility vehicles queue to be loaded onto a freighter at its Oppama factory in Yokosuka, some 40-kilometre south of Tokyo, April 22, 2011

Multimedia

Japan is the United States' fourth-largest trading partner, and trade had increased the first two months of this year -- before the earthquake and tsunami. Now the two busiest container ports in the United States are seeing the effects of the disaster on Japanese imports.  It takes time for electronics and auto parts to travel to a port in Japan, and then up to two weeks to cross the ocean.  Some exports of produce from the United States to Japan have also been disrupted.  

Every day, ships from Asia arrive at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  Located next to each other, these two ports on the West Coast are the busiest container ports in the United States.  And Japan is the second-biggest trading partner of the two ports combined.

"Japan really helped build international trade 20 or 30 years ago and really is responsible for some of the growth here in the Port of Los Angeles," Phillip Sanfield said.

Sanfield is spokesman for Los Angeles Port. He says Japan makes up 15 percent of the overall trade at the Port of Los Angeles.  The largest imports from Japan are auto parts and cars.  Nissans come through the Port of Los Angeles.  

Long Beach is one of the entry ports for Toyotas.  Art Wong is port of Long Beach spokesman. "I’ve heard that Toyota is beginning to slow down their shipment of cars here or even maybe even to stop having as many ships come here,” he said.  “So their plants have been shut down pretty much since the quake they’ve started up production again but certainly not at the same level."

The same seems to be true for auto parts. "All of the auto dealers here that rely on parts are telling us there has been a slowdown," Sanfield said.

It is not just incoming cargo from Japan that is slowing down. Some outgoing shipments from the United States have also been disrupted.

"It’s caused a lot of obvious disruption on both sides of the water here and when it comes to agriculture and refrigerated agriculture in particular here it’s been a real troublesome time," Joe LoBue stated.

LoBue developed the Japanese export market for LoBue Citrus more than 30 years ago. He says normally, 40 percent of his exports of oranges are sorted, packed and shipped to Japan.  Since the earthquake, he’s seen a 10 to 15 percent drop.

"Those sales are gone and it’s a quarter of a million dollars worth of exportable sales that we won’t see," he said.

LoBue says the loss comes from a string of problems that started with cancellations in the first week after the earthquake.  

Then there was the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

"Some of the boats at the very beginning started diverting to other ports in Japan, some of the boats avoided Japan all together," LoBue stated.

Once the oranges got to Japan there were problems with transportation and having enough electricity to refrigerate them.  LoBue says the Japanese are also not buying as many oranges from California because of the cost. "Imported goods are still a luxury and how much they will continue having problems they don’t know, but we’re hoping by the fall that things are better," he said.

That hope is shared by officials at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Port officials say exports from the U.S. may increase in the form of lumber and equipment to help Japan rebuild after the earthquake.

"So it’s not clear that overall we’ll actually have less trade with them this year and maybe this slowdown will pick up and accelerate and we may have as much or more trade later in this year," Wong said.

Port officials say it will be weeks if not months before they will know exactly how the earthquake in Japan has affected imports and exports, and it may be much longer than that before trade with Japan is back to the same level as it was before.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.