Blue Green Line in Header

Welcome to the California Trade Report, Beacon Economics’ monthly analysis of California’s international trade activity. This report analyzes data released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division and pinpoints important trends in the state’s import/export industry, identifying potential effects on the state’s economy. The report is only a sampling of the kind of economic research and data analysis available from Beacon Economics.

Receive the California
Trade Report by email
more info

The California Trade Report represents only a sample of the custom, comprehensive forecasts and economic analysis available from Beacon Economics. Learn More

California Exports Have Slowed But Not Faltered

August 6, 2014 - California’s exporters turned in another strong performance in June, according to a Beacon Economics' analysis of foreign trade data released this morning by the U.S. Commerce Department.

For the month of June, the state's merchandise export trade totaled $15.77 billion, up 3.5% over the $15.23 billion in exports recorded in June 2013.

The state’s exports of manufactured goods edged up 1.5% in June, increasing to $9.96 billion from $9.81 billion in June of last year.

Meanwhile, the state's exports of non-manufactured goods (chiefly agricultural produce and raw materials) in June totaled $1.95 billion, up 18.9% from $1.64 billion in June 2013. Re-exports also grew by 1.8% to $3.86 billion from $3.79 billion.

For the first half of this year, California’s merchandise export trade was up 6.3% over the same period last year, while overall U.S. exports edged ahead by just 2.9%. 

“Constrained by the recent strengthening of the U.S. dollar and the slackening pace of economic growth being reported in several key foreign markets, California’s merchandise export trade has slowed but not faltered,” said Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Advisor.

Moreover, Director of Economic Research Jordan Levine says the state's broader economy is starting to accelerate after the winter lull. "Nonfarm jobs in California are back to their pre-recession peak and the Manufacturing sector has started to post job gains again," said Levine. "Demand for California goods across the globe are certainly helping to fuel those increases."

A Closer Look At The Numbers

As always, Beacon Economics cautions against reading too much into month-to-month fluctuations in state export statistics, especially when focusing on specific commodities or destinations. Significant variations may occur as the result of unusual developments or exceptional one-off trades and may not be indicative of underlying trends.

For that reason, Beacon Economics compares the latest three months for which data are available (i.e., April-June) with the corresponding period one year earlier.

California's merchandise exports during the latest April-June period totaled $44.09 billion, a nominal increase of 6.0% over the same period a year earlier. The state accounted for 10.7% of total U.S. merchandise exports over the past three months.

California’s export trade is highly diversified, with eleven different categories of goods each accounting for at least $1 billion in exports during this year’s second quarter.

Performance, however, was highly variable, with six categories showing declines in exports from the same quarter last year. Topping the export list in this year’s second quarter was Miscellaneous Manufactured Commodities, a catch-all category of merchandise ranging from medical equipment to sporting goods, with $2.92 billion in exports in the latest quarter, down 0.6% from the same period one year earlier. Aerospace Products and Parts ($2.42 billion, -2.0%); Navigational and Measuring Instruments ($2.42 billion, -9.1%); Semiconductors and Other Electronic Components ($2.37 billion, -10.1%); and Communications Equipment ($2.35 billion, +6.5%) were the next largest categories of exports.

On a more positive note, strong growth was reported in exports of Fruits and Tree Nuts ($2.31 billion, +17.4%) and Petroleum and Coal Products ($1.85, +32.7%).

Mexico remained California's single largest export market during the latest three-month period, with the value of exports edging up by 3.6% to $6.27 billion. Exports to Canada slipped by 5.4% to $4.39 billion, while shipments to China rose by a mere 0.8% to $4.21 billion. Japan (up 0.1% to $3.11 billion) and Hong Kong ($2.37 billion, up 33.8%) rounded out California's ‘Top Five’ export destinations in the latest three-month period.

Regionally, California's exports to the Asia Pacific region (including Australia and New Zealand) rose by 5.3% to $17.01 billion. Exports to the European Union grew by 6.7% to $7.59 billion. California exports to Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico) vaulted by 44.2% to $2.95 billion, powered by a tripling of refined petroleum exports to region. The state’s exports to Sub-Saharan Africa amounted to $194.0 million, down 8.9% from the second quarter of last year.

By mode of transportation, 45.3% of California’s $44.09 billion merchandise export trade in the most recent three-month period was shipped by air, with Los Angeles International and San Francisco International Airports accounting for the vast majority of the state’s airborne trade. Seaports handled 32.6% of the state’s export trade, while the remaining 22.1% of the state’s exports of goods traveled overland by truck or rail to Canada and Mexico. 

California Exports: The Near Term Outlook

Beacon Economics expects California’s export trade to continue growing at a slower pace over the next several months. "While we have confidence in the resourcefulness of California’s exporters and the strong appeal of the goods Californians produce, the slowing, if not anemic, economic growth rates we’re seeing in a number of key overseas markets plus the effects of a stronger dollar will likely result in relatively modest growth in California’s export trade in the second half of this year," O'Connell said.


Beacon Economics is a leading provider of economic and data analysis. Our research informs the financial and economic strategies of major hedge funds, industry, cities and counties, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

For more information, please view our research and analytics page or contact Managing Partner Sherif Hanna at 310-571-3399 or

No Nonsense Economics blog feature image
Client Quotes

"Beacon Economics has become an invaluable resource to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, providing us with data and research that informs our efforts to rebuild the region’s economy."
Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

"Beacon Economics has substantially increased economic literacy here in Sonoma County."
Ben Stone, Director, Sonoma County Economic Development Board

"The professional and technically skilled staff at Beacon Economics delivered an excellent product that has been key to our District’s long term planning and fiscal health."
Dave Collins, Assistant General Manager, Finance and Management Services, East Bay Regional Park District