The Port of Long Beach forecasts conservative growth of between 5-8 per cent this year, according to executive director Richard Steinke. The port, which services seven of the top 10 lines making direct calls to the US, handled 3.5 million teu (20 ft equivalent units) last year, up 16 per cent on the previous year. 'The increases were mostly on the import side while the exports were flat,' Mr Steinke said, adding that exports had fallen about 10 per cent. Asian trade accounts for about 80 per cent of Long Beach's container throughput. The port has taken into account the Asian financial turmoil in calculating this year's throughput forecast. The Port of Long Beach's market share on the US West Coast increased last year, while Portland and Seattle's shares had shrunk. Last year, the Port of Los Angeles handled 2.9 million teu. Mr Steinke said unlike the Los Angeles facility in which the city council was involved actively, the Port of Long Beach was more independent and its board met once a week. 'We are able to react quickly and can take action with short notice.' he said. He said the restructuring of alliances would have little impact on operations. Turning to the mainland, Mr Steinke said the port looked forward to an exchange of technology with the port of Qingdao, Long Beach's sister port, after an agreement was signed in April last year.