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California Exports Post Impressive Gains in April 2010

San Rafael, June 10, 2010 – California’s merchandise export trade continued to claw its way back from the depths of the Great Recession in April by posting a robust 21.8 percent increase over the same month last year.

The $11.26 billion in goods shipped abroad in April far exceeded the $9.24 billion the state's exporters sent to foreign markets in April 2009, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of international trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

April marked the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year increases in California’s export trade, according to Jock O’Connell, Beacon’s International Trade Adviser.

California’s exports of manufactured products were up by 18.8 percent over last April, while shipments of agricultural goods and other non-manufactured products leapt by 29.6 percent. Re-exports of items previously imported into the state rose by 28.1 percent.

“Impressive as these numbers certainly are, it’s worth keeping in mind that we are still exporting less in real dollar terms than we were in April 2008,” O’Connell noted.

Prospects for continued growth in the state’s export trade are mixed, however.

O’Connell worries that the sovereign debt crisis that has engulfed the European Union could dampen worldwide demand for California exports throughout the rest of this year.

“Since January 1, the euro has lost between 16 and 18 percent of its value against the dollar and most other major currencies,” O’Connell pointed out.

“So it’s not simply that our goods have become more expensive for Europeans to buy, it also means that European goods have become cheaper for importers in countries like Canada, Mexico, Japan, China and South Korea, which represent California’s top five export markets.”

“We compete intensively against European exporters in all of those markets, and they’ve just cut their prices,” O’Connell said.

Some forecasts see the euro falling even further, perhaps reaching $1.10 by this fall.

April’s rise in the state’s export trade was reflected at most of California’s major international trade gateways. The number of loaded shipping containers leaving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were up by 10.1 percent over from last year. By contrast, exports through the Port of Oakland essentially stalled, with the number of outbound, loaded shipping containers edging up by just half a percent over last April’s totals.

At the state’s two primary international airports, export tonnage in April surged by 16.1 percent at Los Angeles International and by 37.0 percent at San Francisco International.

California accounted for 11.2 percent of all U.S. merchandise exports in April.

On the import side of the ledger, the U.S. Commerce Department reports that California’s merchandise import trade totaled $25.92 billion in April, an increase of 30.9 percent over last April.

California’s nominal international trade deficit in April amounted to $ 14.66 billion.