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California exporters stay the course

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
December 12, 2011

California’s export trade fell prey to sluggish overseas demand in October but still managed to record a 24th straight month of overall growth.

The value of merchandise California businesses shipped abroad in October totaled $13.81 billion, a nominal gain of 7 percent over the $12.91 billion reported last October, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of foreign trade data released recently by the U.S. Commerce Department.

However, exports of the state’s manufactured goods rose by just 3.1 percent from last October to $8.57 billion, while non-manufactured exports (chiefly farm produce and raw materials) edged up by a mere 0.5 percent to $1.85 billion. By contrast, re-exports jumped 23.3 percent to $3.39 billion.

“As we have been noting for the last few months now, the pace of growth in California’s export trade has slowed,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser. “Were it not for those California firms specializing in re-exporting previously imported goods, our outbound trade would have been stagnant in inflation-adjusted terms.”

California’s re-export trade is largely composed of foreign products bound for Canada and Mexico that are shipped through the state’s ports as well as the trafficking of California dealers in precious metals and gems mined elsewhere in the world.

Beacon Economics forecasts continued slow growth in California’s export trade through the winter months as the state’s major trading partners weather mild economic slowdowns.

Looking ahead, Beacon Economics Founding Partner Christopher Thornberg says there is hope on the horizon.

“Growth in Asian and South American nations continues to be robust, and the continued decline of the dollar makes U.S. products that much more competitive in these markets,” he said. Thornberg noted that as long as Europe makes continued efforts to stem their sovereign debt issues, export growth should pick up speed in 2012.

About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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