Welcome to the California Trade Report, Beacon Economics’ monthly analysis of California’s international trade activity. This report analyzes data released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division and pinpoints important trends in the state’s import/export industry, identifying potential effects on the state’s economy. The report is only a sampling of the kind of economic research and data analysis available from Beacon Economics.
California Export Surge Continues
November 14, 2013 – California’s exporters turned in another strong showing in September, according to a Beacon Economics’ analysis of foreign trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.
For the month of September, the state’s merchandise export trade totaled $13.78 billion, a nominal 7.1% increase over the $12.87 billion in exports recorded in September 2012. By comparison, exporters in Texas managed only a 3.9% gain over the same period.
The uptick in California was led by a solid $380 million increase in manufactured exports, which rose by 4.6% to $8.80 billion from $8.42 billion last September.
Meanwhile, the state’s exports of non-manufactured goods (chiefly agricultural produce and raw materials) grew by $260 million, up 17.2% to $1.77 billion from $1.51 billion last year. Re-exports were up by $270 million, from $2.94 billion to $3.21 billion, an increase of 9.2%. Year-to-date, California’s $122.96 billion merchandise export trade is running slightly ahead of the $121.14 billion recorded in the same period last year.
“Given the generally sclerotic state of much of the global economy these days, September’s numbers could almost be described as gravity-defying,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser.
The strong August showing boosted California’s export tally during the year’s first eight months to $109.18 billion, marginally ahead of the $108.27 billion recorded in the same period last year.
The analysis cautions against reading too much into month-to-month fluctuations in state export statistics. Significant variations may be attributable to unusual or exceptional one-off trades and may not be indicative of underlying trends. For that reason, Beacon Economics compares the latest three months (i.e., July-September) for which data are available with the corresponding period in the previous year.
Mexico remained California’s single largest export market during the latest quarter, even though exports to our southern neighbor were off by 2.8% to $6.19 billion. Exports to Canada were up 10.2% to $4.86 billion, while shipments to China increased by 19.9% to $4.17 billion. Japan (down 1.7% to $3.08 billion) and South Korea (up 9.0% to $1.9 billion) rounded out California’s ‘Top Five’ export destinations in the latest quarter.
Regionally, California’s exports to Pacific Rim markets grew by 7.5% to $16.21 billion. Despite Europe’s embrace of austerity, exports to the European Union rose by 12.3% to $6.88 billion. California exports to Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico) rose just 2.7% to $2.59 billion, while exports to India jumped 65.5% to $1.67 billion. California’s export trade with sub-Saharan Africa is comparatively negligible at $0.23 billion during the last quarter.
The latest three-month period saw significant increases of exports of aerospace equipment (up 49.7% to $2.74 billion), communications gear (up 27.9% to $2.51 billion), fruits and tree nuts (up 25.5% to $2.22 billion), and petroleum products (up 38.1% to $2.03 billion).
Despite a 6.1% fall-off, exports of semiconductor and electric components totaled $2.70 billion in the last quarter, while exports of scientific instruments rose slightly to $2.53 billion.
Reflecting the lingering turmoil in the personal computer industry, California’s exports of computer equipment fell 21.3% in the quarter to $2.40 billion.
Beacon Economics’ outlook for the remainder of the year is guardedly positive. “California’s exporters continue to display remarkable resourcefulness in coping with adverse market conditions abroad,” O’Connell said. “Still, we can’t overlook the fact that several of our major trading partners are grasping for formulas for sustained growth.”
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