California’s export trade rallied in July, driven by a surge in shipments of manufactured items.
California businesses shipped merchandise valued at $13.98billion in July, up 6.8percent from $13.09billion in July2012, according to an analysis of Wednesday’s U.S. Commerce Department figures by Beacon Economics, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
It was a solid month in a year of ups and downs – primarily a result of struggling economies overseas – and a state export industry that has been lagging behind last year’s totals. Through the first half of this year, California’s $80.92billion in export trade fell short of $81.97billion recorded in the first six months of 2012.
The July gains were led by a jump in manufactured exports, which rose nearly 10percent year-over-year to more than $9.4billion. Beacon said an unusually large surge in shipments of civilian aircraft and components to overseas customers accounted for much of the spike.
July exports of non-manufactured goods (chiefly agricultural produce and raw materials) edged up slightly to $1.49billion from $1.45billion last year. Re-exports inched up to $3.07billion from $3.05billion.
“In light of a near epidemic of economic lethargy throughout much of the world, July’s numbers were quite impressive,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon’s international trade adviser. “With that ample boost from an aircraft/aerospace industry that many felt had all but deserted the state, California’s exports of manufactured items actually grew at double the pace of the nation as a whole.”
Despite July’s strong showing, California's $94.90billion export trade during the year’s first seven months remains marginally behind $95.05billion recorded in the same period last year.
Beacon cautioned against reading too much into the July surge, as some red flags remain raised.
For example, shipments to Mexico, California’s largest export market, fell 13.7percent over the past three months. That drop continues to be associated with declines in shipments of components used to manufacture personal computers. Mexico recently slashed its gross domestic product growth forecast to 1.8percent from 3.1percent after its economy shrank in the second quarter.
On the import side, California took in $33.56billion in July, up 5.1percent from $31.93billion in July last year. Some goods entering California go to other states, so exports are considered a more accurate measure of the state's trade health.
Nationally, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade gap rose 13percent to about $39.2billion in July. That’s up from June’s deficit of $34.5billion, which was the smallest since late 2009.
Exports of goods and services slipped 0.6percent to $189.4billion in the June-to-July period as U.S. companies shipped fewer capital goods, such as civilian aircraft and industrial engines. Imports increased 1.6percent to $228.6billion, lifted by more shipments of oil, autos and consumer goods.
Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.