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Following inspections by Chinese government auditors, Auto Warehousing Co.'s (AWC) facility at the Port of Portland, Ore., recently received approval to begin processing export shipments of Ford Motor Co. vehicles to China.The Asian nation soon will start receiving new Ford cars and trucks from several auto plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico, with the first shipment expected to occur in the coming weeks, port officials said in a press release."We are proud to be serving as the primary gateway for exports of new Fords to China and furthering our mission to provide access to international markets," said Bill Wyatt, the port's executive director.AWC expects the volume of export Ford vehicles to reach 30,000 units in the first year, then grow to 40,000 units per year. The company plans to hire up to 50 people at its 130-acre Terminal 6 facility to process the vehicles and prepare them for the Chinese market.A $2.8 million project to expand AWC's processing building by 27,000 square feet and increase annual capacity to more than 110,000 vehicles is nearing completion, port officials said.Served by BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad, the Port of Portland is the second-largest auto import gateway on the U.S. West Coast and fifth-largest in the nation, they said, adding that the port has specialized in handling vehicles since 1953.The port began exporting Ford vehicles to South Korea in January 2012, its first exported vehicle shipments since 1988.