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California Exports Surge Ahead 12% in December 2009

Sacramento, February 10 – California’s foreign trade picture brightened appreciably as 2009 ended with exports jumping by 12.0 percent in December over the same month the year before.

The $11.6 billion in goods California companies shipped abroad in December easily exceeded the $10.4 billion the state shipped abroad in December 2008, according to a University of California Center Sacramento analysis of international trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

December’s figure also represented a 6.1 percent increase over November’s export total.

“As encouraging as these new numbers may appear, they only mark the start of a recovery from two years of sharp decline,” cautioned Jock O’Connell, the UC Center’s international trade and economics adviser.

“We are now essentially where we were with exports at the end of 2006,” he explained.

The state’s exports of manufactured goods in December were up 5.1 percent from last December, while shipments of agricultural goods and other non-manufactured products rose by 5.2 percent. Re-exports of goods previously imported into the state jumped by 17.4 percent.

For all of 2009, California exports totaled $120.1 billion, down 17.1 percent compared to 2008, when the state’s exports amounted to $144.8 billion.

At the national level, U.S. exports in December were up 10.4% over last December.

California now accounts for 11.7 percent of all U.S. merchandise exports, which rose by 10.4 percent in December to $99.2 billion.

“We should continue to see gains in exports and in jobs related to exporting throughout 2010, if only because other economies are growing and because a relatively cheap dollar makes our goods more attractive to businesses and consumers abroad,” O'Connell predicted.

The number of loaded shipping containers leaving the neighboring Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in December soared by 35.9 percent from last year. Loaded containers sailing from the Port of Oakland were up by 41.1 percent over the same period.

At the state’s two primary international trade gateway airports, which account for about half of the state’s overall export trade by value, export tonnage in December rose by 17.1 percent at Los Angeles International but surged by 38.8 percent at San Francisco International.

Other statistics released today show that the value of U.S. exports shipped through the Los Angeles Customs District in December was 13.2 percent ahead of last December, while exports from the San Francisco Customs District rose by a more modest 5.6 percent. Meanwhile, exports through the San Diego Customs District were up by 5.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.

On the import side of the ledger, the UC Center Sacramento analysis showed that $25.1 billion worth of foreign goods entered the U.S. via California in December, a 4.3 percent increase from the $24.1 billion reported in December of last year. [Note: There are currently no data sources measuring the value or volume of imports by state of final destination. ]