Just hours ago, I addressed 300 port executives, exporters, business leaders, and government officials at the annual American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Congress of Latin American Ports in Arica, Chile. The Port of Long Beach, which has both participated in and sponsored this conference for the last few years, is about to launch a major endeavor to expand trade to Latin America. In fact, the Port will be releasing its first comprehensive commercial trade plan for Latin America in early 2016.
I can't express how important and significant expanding trade to Latin America is for Long Beach. Even as we continue to have record cargo numbers, only 3-4% of our trade is with Latin America; 95% of our trade is with China and Asia. We are completely dependent on the Asian market and economy for the more than 30,000 good local jobs our port provides Long Beach residents. We must diversify, and do it quickly as the Latin American economy grows and the Chinese economy slows.
During this trade mission we also spent two days in Lima, Peru, where we had meetings with United States Ambassador Brian Nicholas, Embassy Trade officials, export business leaders, and the national president overseeing Peruvian ports. These meetings were organized by the United States State Department and the Department of Commerce and I'm grateful to them for their work and leadership. We also visited the National Port Authority Office at the port of Callo in Lima, one of the largest ports in South America. In addition, we have met with United States embassy trade officials from Chile here at the conference. These high-level meetings are laying the foundation for our new Latin American strategy. As an immigrant from South America, and being fully bilingual, I intend to do whatever I can to expand trade between these emerging markets and our port.