California exports continue upward trend

California export trade continued its hot streak in February, just days before disaster struck trading partner Japan.

Golden State exports of goods totaled $11.76 billion in February, up 13.3 percent from $10.38 billion in February 2010, according to an analysis of Tuesday's U.S. Commerce Department trade figures by Beacon Economics, a consultant with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

It was the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year growth. However, February's total was virtually unchanged from January this year.

Several key segments led the way. Manufactured exports were up 9.4 percent year over year. Non-manufactured exports – mostly raw materials and agricultural products – rose 10.6 percent; re-exports were up by 30.8 percent.

"Growing exports will continue to be an important part of the recovery in the nation and in California," said Christopher Thornberg, a Beacon founding partner. "The solid employment numbers coming out of San Jose and San Diego can be directly traced to growing technology exports."

Even so, the latest numbers leave room for improvement.

"On an inflation-adjusted basis, California's export trade this February exactly matched the value of our exports in February 2008, before the global economy began its precipitous slide into an abysmal recession," said Jock O'Connell, Beacon's international trade adviser, adding that foreign buyers were banking weeks ago on continued weakness in the U.S. dollar, snapping up a wide range of relatively inexpensive products.

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