Business & Real Estate

California exports continue to battle international headwinds

Container ships wait at the dock to be unloaded at the Port of Oakland Thursday, February 12, 2015. According to the consulting firm, Beacon Economics, California businesses shipped merchandise valued at $13.35 billion in May 2016, down 5.5 percent from $14.13 billion in May the previous year.
Container ships wait at the dock to be unloaded at the Port of Oakland Thursday, February 12, 2015. According to the consulting firm, Beacon Economics, California businesses shipped merchandise valued at $13.35 billion in May 2016, down 5.5 percent from $14.13 billion in May the previous year. The Associated Press

California exports continued to slog against global headwinds in May, according to an analysis of U.S. Commerce Department figures.

In-state businesses shipped merchandise valued at $13.35 billion in May, down 5.5 percent from $14.13 billion in May last year, according to Wednesday’s report by Beacon Economics, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Beacon breaks out California numbers from Commerce Department data.

By comparison, U.S. exports of goods saw a 6.7 percent decline in the year-over-year period. California business rivals Texas and Florida also saw drop-offs of 12.3 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.

Beacon said California exports of manufactured goods fell 4.7 percent from May last year, from $9.23 billion to $8.8 billion.

Exports of non-manufactured goods – mainly agricultural produce and raw materials – dropped to $1.74 billion, down almost 4 percent from $1.81 billion last year. Re-exports fell by more than 9 percent, from $3.09 billion a year ago to $2.81 billion this year.

“The numbers continue to reflect the same languid economic conditions abroad that have dampened international trade worldwide, not just in California,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon’s international trade adviser.

Multiple key trading partners of California are struggling with sluggish economic conditions. A softening in the prices California exporters have been able to obtain for their products has hurt as well.

Add to that a relatively strong U.S. dollar, which makes American goods more expensive to purchase.

In calendar 2015, the value of California merchandise exports totaled $165.37 billion, down 5 percent from the record of $174.13 billion amassed in 2014. Not accounting for inflation, 2015 marked the first annual decline since 2009.

Through the first five months of 2016, California’s merchandise export trade is lagging last year’s total over the same period by 6.8 percent. Beacon also noted on Wednesday that California exports have not registered a year-over-year improvement since April 2015.

On the import side, California took in $33.75 billion in goods in May, up nearly 1 percent from $33.46 billion in May last year.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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