Tuesday, April 9, 2013

California Sees Slight Gain in Export Volumes

California’s export trade this February represented a modest increase over the same month last year, according to foreign trade data revealed April 5 by the US Commerce Department.

State exports in February 2013 totaled $12.70 billion, is less than the $12.85 billion recorded in February 2012. However, 2012 was a Leap Year, adding an extra trading day to that month.

So when adjusting for both inflation and that bonus trading day last February, California’s February 2013 export trade showed an increase of 1.1 percent over the same month in 2012.

The gain came as the result of a 4.3 percent real increase in shipments of manufactured products and an even more robust 5.9 percent rise in exports of non-manufactured goods – chiefly agricultural commodities and raw materials.  Restraining further growth in the state’s overall export trade was a relatively sharp 9.6 percent drop in re-exported goods.

Analysis reveals that California’s export of manufactured products continues to be slowed by an ongoing decline in shipments of electronic components used in the manufacture of personal computers. In the most recent three-month period, December 2012 through February 2013, exports of these products were down 24.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to data from economic consulting firm Beacon Economics.

“The chief culprit here,” Beacon’s international trade adviser, Jock O’Connell said, “is the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, which has been shrinking consumer demand for PCs and curtailing trade in PC components.”

California’s exports to Mexico, the state’s leading foreign market, were down by 19.2 percent in the latest three-month period, largely because PC components have constituted as much as 30 percent of California’s export trade with its southern neighbor as recently as 2011, according to Beacon.

Shipments to the state’s number two market, Canada, rose slightly by 1.2 percent during the three-month period, while exports to its third largest export market, China, slipped by 1.3 percent.

However, California exports to the European Union were up 3.9 percent over the latest three months, while exports to the Pacific Rim rose by about two percent, according to Beacon’s data.