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California Exporters Continue to Gain While Imports Slow

June 9, 2011—SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA—Despite recent signs of a slackening pace of global economic growth, California exporters turned in another impressive performance in April with shipments totaling $12.88 billion, a gain of 14.4% over the same month last year, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of foreign trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The state’s manufactured exports rose by 10.7%, while non-manufactured exports (chiefly raw materials and agricultural products) were up by 21.3%. Re-exports, meanwhile, grew by 22.4%.

“On an inflation-adjusted basis, California’s export trade in April nearly equaled the pre-recession high for that month achieved back in 2007,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Adviser.

April marked the 18th consecutive month of impressive year-over-year gains in California’s merchandise export trade.

The gains could have implications for the broader economy. "Exports are likely to play an important role in the economic boost we expect to see in the second half of this year," said Beacon Economics' Founding Partner Christopher Thornberg.

On the import side of the ledger, however, business was much less robust as the value of foreign goods entering the U.S. through California’s seaports, airports and border crossings increased by just 9.9% over last April.

The Beacon Economics analysis expects California’s job-generating export trade to continue to expand, albeit at a somewhat more moderate pace through the remainder of the year.

“The economic growth rates of several of our principal trading partners have been decelerating, in some cases like China and India from speeds that were plainly unsustainable over the long-term.” O’Connell said. “That’s apt to shrink but certainly not stifle their appetite for imported goods.”

Still, O'Connell noted, California exporters should continue to enjoy the competitive benefits of a dollar that has been trading at some of the lowest levels in decades.