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November 12, 2012: Parsing California's Re-Export Trade

Each month, the U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division releases statistics on the merchandise export trade of the individual states, broken down by manufactured goods, non-manufactured goods, and re-exports. For example, California's $13.22 billion merchandise export trade in August 2012 comprised $8.71 billion in manufactured products, $1.51 in non-manufactured goods, and $3.00 billion in re-exports.

While California's overall merchandise export trade in 2011 exceeded, in real terms, the value of the state's merchandise export trade in any year over the past decade and a half, the three components of the state's export trade have not been rising in tandem.

Re-exports in California's merchandise export trade grew from an 11 percent share in 1996 to a 23 percent share in 2011. Over the same period, the portion of the state's merchandise export trade involving non-manufactured exports (chiefly agricultural products and raw materials) rose from 5 percent to 13 percent. Conversely, manufactured goods, which had accounted for 83 percent of the state's merchandise export trade in 1996, held only a 64 percent share in 2011. California's manufactured export trade in last year lagged some four percent behind the level of the manufactured exports in the immediate pre-recession peak year of 2008 and some sixteen percent below the previous high-water mark for the state's manufactured exports in 2000.

On a year-to-date basis through August, California's exports of manufactured products had a value (in constant 2005 dollars) of $59.23 billion, 7.2 percent less than the $63.80 billion reported in the first eight months of 2008, and 12.2 percent below the $67.43 billion recorded during the same period in 2000.