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Vehicle exports are climbing, but will they offset slowing imports?

Vehicle exports are climbing, but will they offset slowing imports?

Vehicle exports from the U.S. have come as a pleasant boost for American ports. The question is whether a boost in exports will offset declining auto import volumes?

Last year, the Port of Portland, Oregon notched a double-digit gain in the number of finished vehicles it handled. The real —and unlikely—star for this Pacific Rim port: Exports.

“What’s really helped us was the demand from China for high-end American vehicles, Mustangs, Expeditions, Lincoln Navigators,” explained Ken O’Hollaren, the port’s marine marketing manager. “It’s a reflection of China’s economic growth, its rising standard of living, the demand for high-quality, high-end US automobiles.”

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, vehicle exports from the port increased 45% to 76,000, while overall vehicle handling was up 13% to 318,000. Portland imports Hyundais, Toyotas and Hondas.

O’Hollaren expects this year, export gains will continue. Ford Motor Co. exports its cars to China and other Asian countries through the port, which recently inaugurated a new $7 million, 19-acre storage and staging yard to handle the increased export-related traffic.

Portland now boasts it is the biggest port for auto exports on the West Coast, punching well above its weight as North America’s tenth largest port for total vehicle handling, and the fifth largest on the West Coast.

“We’ve enjoyed a longstanding reputation for automotive import handling,” said O’Hollaren. “Now, increasingly [that reputation] is being built on exports.”...


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