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Asian disaster expected to have limited impact on port shipments

The earthquake and tsunamis that hit Asian countries killing more than 70,000 and crippling the region’s tourism industry are not expected to cause long-term economic problems according to economists.

The impact, beyond the tourism industry, will be limited because the disaster touched mainly coastal towns and not big manufacturing centers, economists point out.

In this respect, this disaster is quite different from the 1995 earthquake that struck the major industrial center of Kobe, Japan, and destroyed much of its port.

“I think the human toll is severe. At the same time, economically, I don’t see it affecting the global economy very much,” Sung Won Sohn, a chief economist at Wells Fargo, told AP.

So far, experts are unaware of any major disruptions to international trade caused by the disaster.

“Right now it’s business as usual at the ports,” said Bill Anthony, a spokesman at U.S. Customs and Border Protection told AP. He cautioned, however, that there may be a temporary slowdown if ships are rerouted.

Sri Lanka is a big exporter of textiles and apparel. India exports textiles, gems and jewelry, among other goods. Indonesia’s exports include oil, gas and electrical appliances. Malaysia’s exports include electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas. Thailand’s exports include computers, transistors and seafood.

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