China Ocean Shipping Co (Cosco) has signed a letter of intent with the Port of Los Angeles, expressing interest in the port's container terminal under construction at Pier 400. The signing ceremony was between a delegation led by Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan and senior Cosco officials in Beijing. Under the plan, Cosco will take up a facility under phase I of the US$300 million project, which is on a 190-hectare site in San Pedro Bay to be completed in 2001. 'While Cosco has signed the letter of intent, it by no means indicates that it has given up its interest in the Port of Long Beach,' a source said, adding that Cosco was preparing an alternative plan if its bid to establish a terminal at the Port of Long Beach failed. Cosco's Long Beach plan was hit when environmentalists took legal action to preserve historic structures at the former Long Beach naval station where the terminal was to be built. On April 11 last year, a judge ordered the cancellation of Cosco's lease for authorities to consider all options for the site. Long Beach port authorities are seeking to overturn the ruling. Separately, Bloomberg reported that freight from Asia to Los Angeles grew 1.3 per cent in January while exports fell 15.7 per cent, as US-dollar strength hit trade with the region. The results at the second-largest US port contrasted with those at neighbouring Long Beach, the nation's largest port, where imports rose 17.3 per cent and exports fell 8.3 per cent in the month.