Exports up again for California

The $12.49 billion in goods California businesses shipped abroad in November exceeded the $10.95 billion sent to foreign markets in November 2009 by a healthy 14.1 percent, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of foreign trade data recently released by the U.S. Commerce Departmen

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California’s exporters racked up another impressive performance in November, even while failing to keep pace with growth in the overall U.S. export trade. 

The $12.49 billion in goods California businesses shipped abroad in November exceeded the $10.95 billion sent to foreign markets in November 2009 by a healthy 14.1 percent, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of foreign trade data recently released by the U.S. Commerce Department.

“On the bright side, this was our best November ever in inflation-adjusted terms, and it did mark the thirteenth consecutive month of year-over-year increases in California’s export trade,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser.

“The not-so-good news is that California was decisively outpaced by the nation as a whole in overall merchandise export growth in November, 19.4 percent to 14.1 percent,” he added.

California’s export trade includes a relatively high percentage of re-exports, items that were previously imported into the U.S. and which have had no significant value-added prior to being shipped abroad.

“California’s numerous trading companies do a superb job sourcing goods from around the world and matching them with foreign customers,” O’Connell said.  “That’s why California’s re-export trade leaped by 36.3 percent in November.” In contrast, exports of goods manufactured in California grew by just 6.7 percent over November 2009, while overall U.S. manufactured exports surged by 16.7 percent. Likewise, exports of non-manufactured goods rose by 16.4 percent in California, while increasing by 22.9 percent nationally.

In an interview with LM, O’Connell noted that the ports of LA/Long Beach and Oakland are reporting a surge in outbound volume, but that export figures can be deceiving.

“When measured in true value, the cargo is still marginal,” he said. “The vessels are coming in with expensive commodities from China and the Far East, and leaving with hay and waste material.  It’s not what we would describe as a fair balance.”
California accounted for 11.1 percent of all U.S. merchandise exports in November, but just 9.6 percent of its manufactured exports. The state’s exports of non-manufactured goods did represent 12.4 percent of the nation’s exports of those goods, but fully 19.8 percent of the nation’s shipments of re-exported goods came from California.

As a consequence, O’Connell says California’s export trade has a less immediate positive impact on the state’s economy and on its propensity for job creation.

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 [email protected]

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