Friday, September 10, 2010

Exports and Imports Through California Climb in July, Rest of the Year in Question

Exporters throughout California remained one of the state's bright economic spots during July as the value of overseas export shipments rose by 21.4 percent over the same month last year.

The $11.86 billion in goods exported during July surpassed the $9.77 billion the state's exporters sent overseas in July 2009, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of international trade data released Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

According to Jock O'Connell, Beacon Economics' International Trade Adviser, July marked the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year increases in California's export trade.

"California's economy would obviously be in even worse shape were it not for strong foreign demand for goods produced by our manufacturers and farmers," O'Connell said.

The state's July export trade in manufactured products was up 20.1 percent over July 2009, while shipments of agricultural goods and other non-manufactured products increased by 10.6 percent. In addition, re-exports of items previously imported into the state rose by 32.1 percent.

Nationwide, California accounted for 11.4 percent of all U.S. merchandise exports in July.

Despite the recent uptick in activity, O'Connell pointed out that California's export totals are still below pre-recession levels.

In inflation-adjusted terms, California’s export trade in July 2008 was $12.65 billion, some 6.7% higher than the value of exports this July.

O'Connell also predicted that the recent growth in California exports would likely decline through the end of the year.

"Madam Olga’s crystal ball may be full of good cheer, but almost no one else is forecasting brisk growth in world trade this fall,” O’Connell warned. “Instead, governments have been joining businesses and consumers on the economic sidelines. As spending falters and demand shrinks, so too will trade."

O'Connell added, "There's more than ample reason to be cautiously pessimistic about the next few months."

Imports through the state were also up in July, with the U.S. Commerce Department numbers reporting that California's merchandise import trade totaled $28.5 billion in July, an increase of 23.8 percent over the year-ago period.

According to Beacon, California accounted for 17.4 percent of all U.S. merchandise imports in July.