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California Export Trade Edges Ahead... Again

May 10, 2012 - LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - California exporters posted another profitable month in March, continuing an unbroken streak of year-over-year increases in the state’s merchandise export trade going back to November 2009.

The value of goods shipped abroad by California businesses in March reached $14.62 billion, a nominal gain of 4.8% over the $13.95 billion reported in March 2011, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics of foreign trade data released yesterday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

“With the March figures in the book, California companies are now exceeding the merchandise export totals recorded at any time since state-of-origin data were first compiled in 1987,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics' International Trade Adviser. “And that includes the era of the dot com boom."

California’s exports of manufactured goods in March nudged up 2.2% from $9.18 billion to $9.38 billion, while non-manufactured exports (chiefly raw materials and agricultural products) rose 15.5% from $1.64 billion to $1.90 billion. Re-exports, meanwhile, increased by 6.6% from $3.13 billion to $3.34 billion.

The strength of the state's export trade continues to bolster California's economic recovery, according to Beacon Economics' Founding Partner Christopher Thornberg. "Although non-manufactured goods posted stronger gains, the increase in manufacturing exports on a monthly basis should translate into upward pressure on the labor markets in the manufacturing and logistics-oriented sectors in coming months," Thornberg said.

And while Beacon Economics expects this pattern of export growth to be maintained, global economic conditions indicate growth rates over the next few months may be comparatively tepid.

“China's economy is cooling down, much of Europe is in recession, and recent set-backs are starting to affect several of the previously fast-growing developing economies of Latin America and Asia,” O’Connell said. "Looking ahead, much will hinge on whether European Union leaders will be able to finally defuse the long-simmering euro crisis, and, if not, how badly the fall-out will affect financial markets elsewhere."

“For the time being, though, we are fortunate that our two biggest foreign markets, Mexico and Canada, remain on more stable economic footing,” O'Connell said, pointing out that California's exports to Mexico have been especially robust in recent months.

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