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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.