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California Trade Report for January 2022

Below are highlights from the recently released trade data from the US Census Bureau and US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In nominal terms, the January 2022 results show both California exports and trade flows through the state’s ports back to or above the pre-pandemic January 2020 levels. In real terms, however, as measured by the CPI, export levels and flows remain down, while the overall numbers remain dominated by a steep rise in imports.

Port congestion remains high but easing from the peak backup of 109 container vessels recorded for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on January 9. On October 20, 2021 when the state issued its measures to tackle the ongoing supply chain issues, the backup was at 71 container ships and 108 total ships at anchor or loitering off the ports. In the latest numbers for March 4, the total container ship backup was 56.

While congestion at the ports and at other points in the California and national supply chains continue as significant barriers to normal trade flows and major contributors to growing inflation, these issues are not unique to the state. In the map below indicating the port congestion at the end of February, a large number of choke points remain in the global trade networks in addition to those on the West Coast.

Source: Port Congestion Contagion Spreads, Splash, February 25, 2022

The ongoing supply chain disruptions are now joined by the as yet unknown effects coming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent rounds of sanctions on Russia. California trade with both countries is relatively low, comprising less than half a percent of the total through the state’s businesses. With the exception of imports from Russia, trade levels also have not changed substantially from the pre-pandemic period in 2019. Note that in both cases, the values shown for origin exports and imports cover both goods produced/used within the state as well as goods aggregated by businesses within the state for export or shipment to other states.

California Goods Trade with Russia & Ukraine
Source: US Census Bureau

2019 2021
Russia Ukraine Russia Ukraine
Value ($ billion)
Origin Exports $0.4 $0.3 $0.5 $0.3
Origin Imports $1.6 $0.1 $2.1 $0.1
Share of California Total
Origin Exports 0.24% 0.14% 0.27% 0.14%
Origin Imports 0.40% 0.01% 0.45% 0.02%

The Top 10 Exports to both countries in 2021 are shown in the following tables.

2021 California Exports to Russia $ million
Computer Equipment $60.5
Medical Equipment & Supplies $55.3
Navigational/measuring/medical/control Instrument $51.5
Pharmaceuticals & Medicines $38.8
Aerospace Products & Parts $32.8
Other General Purpose Machinery $28.0
Communications Equipment $25.3
Waste & Scrap $23.9
Semiconductors & Other Electronic Components $18.2
Soaps, Cleaning Compounds & Toilet Preparations $13.8

2021 California Exports to Ukraine $ million
Used or Second-hand Merchandise $114.0
Motor Vehicles $29.4
Oilseeds & Grains $21.6
Fruits & Tree Nuts $18.0
Motor Vehicle Parts $9.7
Navigational/measuring/medical/control Instrument $8.1
Foods, Nesoi $8.0
Ag & Construction & Machinery $5.6
Aerospace Products & Parts $4.6
Medical Equipment & Supplies $4.0

The Top 10 Imports for 2021 are as follows.

2021 California Imports from Russia $ million
Oil & Gas $937.9
Petroleum & Coal Products $745.5
Nonferrous (exc Alum) & Processing $139.0
Pesticides, Fertilizers & Other Agri Chemicals $69.2
Aerospace Products & Parts $44.7
Veneer, Plywood & Engineered Wood Products $41.3
Basic Chemicals $24.8
Goods Returned $16.8
Grain & Oilseed Milling Products $13.6
Alumina & Aluminum & Processing $13.3

2021 California Imports from Ukraine $ million
Grain & Oilseed Milling Products $39.2
Oilseeds & Grains $8.8
Household Appliances & Misc Machines, Nesoi $4.0
Clay & Refractory Products $3.3
Crowns/closures/seals & Other Packing Accessories $2.2
Footwear $1.9
Apparel $1.8
Rubber Products $1.8
Other General Purpose Machinery $1.8
Basic Chemicals $1.5

California began importing oil from Russia beginning in 2007 as in-state production declined and as shipments from Alaska were dropping as well. Currently, about 5% of the state’s crude oil imports come from Russia. In 2007, average California oil production (including federal offshore) was 598,7000 barrels a day, dropping to 357,900 barrels in the latest data for 2021. In contrast, US Energy Information Administration data shows imports of Russian crude oil in 2021 were only 42,400 barrels a day, an amount that could have been easily offset by policies ensuring California produced more of its ongoing energy needs, both now and during the extended period required to meet the state’s “clean” energy goals.

Nationally, there is more than enough current production to make up for this amount, but there are no oil pipelines connecting the state to the national markets. In addition, Jones Act restrictions make it uneconomic to ship oil to the state (and the Northeast states as well) from the Gulf Coast. Consequently, California’s continued oil demands will instead likely be handled by other import sources rather than domestic production and the associated jobs.

Share of Goods through US Ports

CA Share Of Total Trade
Through US Ports

The share of total US goods trade (exports and imports) through California ports continued its downward trend to 17.01% (12 month moving average; compared to 17.07% in December 2021 and 18.01% in January 2021).

California remained the #2 state, behind Texas with 18.14% (compared to 18.03% in December 2021 and 16.83% in January 2021). Trade through the Atlantic port states was at 30.17% (compared to 30.23% in December 2021 and 30.68% in January 2021).

California Goods Exports

Billion Change In Exports

Total California goods exports were up $0.6 billion from January 2021 (up 4.5%). California remained in 2nd place with 9.91% of all US goods exports (12 month moving total), behind Texas at 21.62%.

California's Balance for Goods Trade

Billion Of Goods Trade

California’s balance of goods trade activity through state businesses broadened to -$26.9 billion, compared to a level of -$20.2 billion in January 2021. California trade accounted for 27% of the US trade deficit in goods in January 2022.

Top 20 Exports, January 2022

Top 20 exports by value are shown below, along with the change from January 2021.

NAICS Commodity Jan 2022 Exports ($b.) Change from Jan 2021
Semiconductors & Other Electronic Components $0.9 -10.9%
Industrial Machinery 0.8 -6.3%
Computer Equipment 0.8 14.7%
Pharmaceuticals & Medicines 0.7 -0.3%
Navigational/measuring/medical/control Instrument 0.7 -0.1%
Fruits & Tree Nuts 0.7 -3.5%
Miscellaneous Manufactured Commodities 0.6 -5.2%
Communications Equipment 0.5 7.1%
Waste & Scrap 0.5 61.7%
Aerospace Products & Parts 0.4 -42.9%
Medical Equipment & Supplies 0.4 2.2%
Motor Vehicles 0.4 -43.0%
Petroleum & Coal Products 0.4 85.2%
Basic Chemicals 0.3 39.0%
Electrical Equipment & Components, Nesoi 0.3 13.4%
Other General Purpose Machinery 0.3 6.9%
Used or Second-hand Merchandise 0.2 37.4%
Commercial & Service Industry Machinery 0.2 39.7%
Plastics Products 0.2 7.8%
Other Fabricated Metal Products 0.2 19.3%

Top 10 Export Markets, January 2022

Country December 2021 Exports ($b.) Change from December 2020
Mexico $2.4 19.5%
Canada 1.4 23.0%
China 1.2 -3.0%
Korea, South 1.0 -0.2%
Japan 0.8 -28.6%
Taiwan 0.8 22.4%
India 0.5 0.4%
Netherlands 0.5 24.7%
Germany 0.5 16.7%
Singapore 0.4 33.6%