BYLINE: Janet Nodar
Gulf commodities headed for Europe
The inexpensive dollar is galvanizing the Gulf trade in export commodities with Europe. Robert Landry, director of marketing at the Port of New Orleans, said trade with northern Europe is "strong but changing." He sees a shift away from last year's booming steel imports toward exports of containerized chemicals from the region's many manufacturing plants. During January and February, chemical exports totaled 180,729 tons, up 150 percent from 72,346 tons during the same period in 2006.
Houston also is seeing growth in exports to northern Europe. Jim Edmonds, chairman of the port, said Gulf-Europe containerized exports increased 27 percent from 2005 to 2006, while imports rose 8 percent.
According to Allen Clifford, vice president of marketing with Mediterranean Shipping Co., a global container line that calls at New Orleans and Houston weekly with services to northern Europe and the Mediterranean, the cheap dollar is pushing chemical exports from the Gulf to northern Europe.
"Much of the Gulf's commodity-heavy cargo is voluminous without necessarily being high value and is strongly affected by changes in the dollar's value. …