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Shoppers from overseas aid U.S. exports

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Vivian Leite needed a new suitcase to tote $5,000 worth of goods from her one-week U.S. shopping trip back home to South America.

“The variety of goods is unbelievable in the U.S.,” the 40-year-old veterinarian from Rio de Janeiro said Sept. 15 while shopping near Miami with 11 of her friends. “I came with one piece of luggage but I can tell I’ll need a second one to get back home.”

Leite is among a growing number of tourists from countries including China, India and Argentina who are pouring into America’s shopping malls to snap up everything from Apple Inc. iPhones to Coach Inc. handbags that carry cheaper price tags in the U.S. So-called tourism exports, or the value of products and services purchased by visitors from abroad, have climbed to a record, boosting the economy and employment.

“The travel industry so far this year has accounted for more than a quarter of our country’s growth in exports, so it’s incredibly important,” said David Huether, senior vice president of research at U.S. Travel Association, a Washington- based non-profit organization representing the industry. “People come here, spend money, and support jobs.”

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