Buoyed by an increase in exports, Los Angeles County will see moderate growth in international trade activity this year after a down year in 2007, according to a new study.

But with increasing competition from nearby ports and congestion in the region's transportation infrastructure, Los Angeles will not experience the huge gains in international trade that characterized the industry in recent years, said the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. in a study to be released today.

"The days of 10 percent growth in container volumes at the local ports could be gone," said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the group, in a release. "There are many daunting challenges."

Still, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports retained their positions as the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 container ports, respectively. Los Angeles saw a slight dip in the number of loaded containers handled to 5.74 million units, while Long Beach's count rose 4.1 percent to 4.99 million containers.

The region's top import by value in 2007 was electrical equipment, totaling $58.3 billion, and Los Angeles' top trading partner was China.

The LAEDC expects the county to add nearly 2,000 international trade-related jobs in 2008.

Separately, the group is releasing the preliminary results today of a study of foreign direct investment in the county. According to the LAEDC, in Los Angeles County there are 4,384 foreign-owned and affiliated establishments, roughly one third of which are Japanese.

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