Business & Real Estate

California export trade finished 2016 with a sprint

A recent report says exports of non-manufactured goods – including rice and other agricultural products – jumped 14.1 percent, to $1.7 billion in 2016. Above, rice is harvested near Dunnigan in October 2012.
A recent report says exports of non-manufactured goods – including rice and other agricultural products – jumped 14.1 percent, to $1.7 billion in 2016. Above, rice is harvested near Dunnigan in October 2012. Associated Press file

California merchandise exports closed out a strong second half of last year with an exceptional December, pushing the state’s 2016 total to nearly $164 billion.

Golden State businesses shipped merchandise valued at $14.04 billion in December, up 9.3 percent from $12.85 billion in December 2015, according to Tuesday’s report by Beacon Economics, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Beacon breaks down California’s export totals from U.S. Census Bureau figures.

For all of 2016, Beacon said California shipped $163.62 billion in goods abroad, just a 1 percent dip from $165.37 billion amassed in 2015.

On a straight-up dollar basis, not adjusting for inflation, it was California fourth-best export year ever. The record of $174.13 billion was set in 2014.

Last year’s second-half rally was significant. Back in May, the economic struggles of key trading partners, a softening of prices California exporters were obtaining for their products and other factors saw the Golden State trailing its 2015 shipments by about 7 percent.

“After a sluggish start to the year, export numbers picked up in the spring and, despite a strong dollar (making U.S. goods more expensive to purchase) finished the year briskly,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon’s international trade adviser.

O’Connell noted that a surge in transportation equipment exports and other manufactured goods helped drive the second-half rally.

In December alone, Beacon said exports of manufactured goods increased by 8.6 percent, to $9.05 billion from $8.33 billion a year earlier. Exports of non-manufactured goods – chiefly agricultural products and raw materials – jumped 14.1 percent, to $1.7 billion from about $1.5 billion; re-exports rose 9.3 percent, to $3.29 billion from $3.01 billion.

By comparison, Beacon noted, California’s 9.3 percent annual gain in December easily surpassed the 5.6 percent increase reported nationwide and the 2.4 percent gain by business rival Texas.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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