“Investment into Los Angeles County from China has doubled over the past five years” according to two new reports issued by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (@LAEDC], as Kevin Smith (@SGVNBiz) reported in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune yesterday.  “’International Trade Outlook for the Southern California Region 2014-2015” examines the Southland’s trade sector from a broad perspective, and “Growing Together: China and Los Angeles County” speaks to the growing trade synergy between Southern California and China.””

When interviewed for the report, Robert Kleinhenz, the LAEDC’s chief economist told Smith:  “International trade is a significant industry for our local economy because we are the gateway to the U.S…always rank[ing] among the top three industries for Southern California from one year to the next, and it competes with entertainment.” “LACD exports to China have grown by more than 52 percent since 2009, setting records at the Port of Los Angeles in 2010 and 2011 in both value and the number of containers, Smith reported. “Last year the value of [Los Angeles County] exports to China… totaled nearly $22 billion.”

Sectoral higlights

The reported outlined that: “Computers, machinery, appliances and parts topped the LACD’s 2013 export list to China with a value of $4.7 billion. That was followed by electrical equipment, TVs and electronic parts ($3.8 billion), plastics and items made of plastic ($2.8 billion) and motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts ($2.3 billion), among others. Top imports included computers, machinery, appliances and parts ($41.8 billion), electrical equipment, TVs and electronic parts ($40.6 billion) and furniture, bedding and lamps ($11.1 billion). China was the LACD’s top trading partner in 2013, followed by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and Vietnam.”

Implications for professional services firms

Chinese and Los Angeles county professional services firms clearly have a tangible, lucrative cross-border opportunity, as the LAEDC studies reflect.  Importantly, those reports not only 

highlight the rise in trade between Los Angeles and China – but also detail that growth by sector. Professional services firms on both sides of the Pacific would be wise to closely track this growth by sector, then leverage their capabilities to help major sectoral players in this cross-border trade maximize their new market penetration.

This takes a refined business development effort, however.  For Los Angeles County professional advisors in particular, international trade is now poised to potentially overtake entertainment as the areas prime economic driver.  With that in mind, a special focus on these international opportunities will be vital for firms in the region going forward.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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