Friday, November 12, 2010

California Exports Up for 11th Straight Month

Despite California's high unemployment, rising foreclosures and a massive projected state budget deficit for next year, the Golden State's exporters in September reported the eleventh straight month of year-over-year trade growth, according to a Beacon Economics analysis of international trade data released Wednesday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Exporters shipped $12.32 billion in goods to foreign markets during September, a sizable 19 percent increase over the $10.352 billion sent abroad in September 2009.
“To be sure, September 2009 did not set a very high bar for comparison purposes, but the year-to-year increase was still remarkably robust,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser.

California exporters also outpaced the nation as a whole in merchandise export growth in September, 19.0 percent to 17.9 percent.

In inflation-adjusted terms, said the Beacon analysis, California’s export trade in September almost exactly matched the value of its merchandise exports in September 2008, when international trade began to plummet as the global economic meltdown took hold.

In addition, California exporters reported manufactured goods sent abroad climbed 19 percent in September compared to the year-ago period, while exports of agriculture and non-manufactured goods climbed 10.7 percent compared to September 2009. Re-exports – goods sent out of the state that were previously imported – jumped 24.3 percent in September compared to the same period last year.

California accounted for 11.4 percent of the nation's total merchandise exports for September.

“All indications are that the sustained growth in September’s exports was led by airborne shipments of high-value items such as electronics components, medical and scientific instruments, and pharmaceuticals,” said Beacon's O’Connell. "Most Californians don't appreciate that, in terms of dollar value, about half of this state's export trade moves by air."

Exports moving through the state's airports in September climbed 26.5 percent from September 2009, while by comparison, the value of exports moving through the state's ports in September rose a more modest 13.7 percent.

Despite almost a solid year of export growth, O'Connell warned that the outlook for the winter is mixed.

“While the Federal Reserve Bank’s efforts at quantitative easing should push the dollar’s value down to the benefit of California exporters, the current level of acrimony among the G-20 nations is shocking,” he said. “As the G-20 leaders huddle in Korea this week, there appears little room for a consensus to emerge over how the global economy’s chief players will address some extremely vexing economic and trade policy issues.”