Below are highlights from the recently released trade data from the US Census Bureau and US Bureau of Economic Analysis.
While many of the May numbers show substantial increases over the prior year, these outcomes are due to comparisons at the low levels from May 2020 when world trade was substantially restrained by the pandemic. Comparisons instead against numbers from 2019 give a more realistic picture of ongoing trends and the extent to which trade activities in the state are moving towards recovery.
From this perspective, origin exports remain somewhat subdued, but imports—both destination state and activity through the ports—are elevated, reflecting built-up consumer demand now being met through higher consumption along with efforts throughout the supply chain to combat the current shortages affecting both inventories and production.
California Goods Exports
Billion Change In Exports
Total California goods exports were up $4.4 billion from May 2020 (up 42.2%). This large jump, however, is an indicator of growing recovery in world trade rather than a real improvement in export activities. Trade in May 2020 was still heavily restrained by the pandemic. Comparing the May 2021 numbers to May 2019 instead shows a $0.4 billion drop. Exports are improving, but have yet to fully recover to prior trends.
California remained in 2nd place with 10.73% of all US goods exports (12-month moving total), behind Texas at 19.61%.
California's Balance for Goods Trade
Billion Of Goods Trade
California’s balance of goods trade activity through state businesses broadened to -$24.0 billion, compared to a level of -$16.6 billion in May 2020. California trade accounted for 28% of the US trade deficit in goods in May 2021.
Top 20 Exports, May 2021
Top 20 exports by value are shown below, along with the change from May 2020.
By shipping weight (vessel and air total), the leading export was Waste And Scrap at 0.8 billion kg (40% of total exports), followed by Fruits & Tree Nuts at 0.2 billion kg (12%), and Other Agricultural Products at 0.2 billion kg (10%).
Top 10 Export Markets, May 2021