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California's Exports Surge in January 2010

Sacramento, March 11 – California’s merchandise export trade continued to rebound handily in January, with the value of shipments up by 18.5 percent over the same month last year.

The $10.3 billion in goods shipped abroad this January far exceeded the $8.7 billion the state's exporters shipped abroad in January 2009, according to a University of California Center Sacramento analysis of international trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

January marked the third consecutive month of year-over-year increases in California’s export trade, according to Jock O’Connell, the UC Center’s international trade and economics adviser.

“Even so, we are now just getting back to the level of exporting we were at in early 2007, before the global financial and economic crisis sent international trade spiraling down,” he noted.

Overall U.S. exports were up by 18.3 percent over last January.

California accounted for 11.1 percent of all U.S. merchandise exports in January.

California’s exports of manufactured goods increased by 10.2 percent from last January, while shipments of agricultural goods and other non-manufactured products rose by 46.7 percent Re-exports of goods previously imported into the state jumped by 35.8 percent.

O’Connell said he anticipated continued improvement in the state’s export trade in coming months, "if only because the economies of most of our major trading partners continue to expand."

“The most worrisome prospect involves the risk of fall-out from the financial turmoil now gripping the European Union and especially those countries in the euro zone,” he warned.

Eight European nations, not all of whom use the euro as their currency, rank among California’s Top 25 export markets.

The increase in the dollar value of the state’s exports was reflected at California’s major international trade gateways. The number of loaded shipping containers leaving the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland were up by 26.8 percent over from last year.

Similarly, at Los Angeles International and San Francisco International, the state’s two primary international airports, export tonnage in January increased by 32.5 percent over last January. Historically, just over half of the value of California’s merchandise export trade has been airborne.

Other statistics released today show that the value of U.S. exports shipped through the Los Angeles Customs District in January was 5.8 percent ahead of last January, while exports from the San Francisco Customs District rose by 4.7 percent. Meanwhile, exports through the San Diego Customs District were up by just 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.

On the import side of the ledger, the U.S. Commerce Department reports that California’s import trade totaled $23.0 billion in January, an increase of 14.6 percent over last January.

[ADVISORY TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Beginning today, the U.S. Commerce Department has begun issuing data allocating U.S. imports by state-of-destination. According to the Commerce Department: "The state of import will reflect the U.S. state or territory of ultimate destination of the imported merchandise." In conjunction with other trade data users throughout the country, the UC Center Sacramento is currently analyzing this new set of data to determine whether it represents a significant improvement over import data reported for each U.S. Customs District, three of which encompass California. Until we have had an opportunity to more fully assess the quality of the new data, we caution against reaching any firm conclusions as to the size of a trade deficit or surplus California may be running. Preliminarily, however, it would appear that California had a trade deficit in January 2010 of nearly $12.8 billion, based on the newly released data.)