Foreign trade bolsters California economy

In an article published Sunday, Daniel Weintraub details the importance of foreign trade to California’s economy. According to Weintraub, California has “led the nation in a rebound of exports as we’ve begun to crawl out of the Great Recession.”

California exported about $95 billion worth of goods through July, about 4 percent more than the value of the state’s exports from January through July in 2008, before the worldwide recession sent trade plummeting. Exports represent about 8 percent of California’s economy, according to a recent estimate by the Anderson School of Business at UCLA.

So far this year, California’s top trading partners are Mexico, Canada and China. Exports to Mexico are up 25 percent from a year ago. Aircraft engines and parts are the state’s top export product, and computers and electronic products are the top industry. Medical devices and agriculture are also high on the list. Hundreds of thousands of California jobs are connected to all of this trade.

Tourism is also a booming California industry that many economists consider a form of foreign trade even if it is not counted as an export. One recent estimate by the Brookings Institution concluded that the value of services sold to foreigners in California is approaching $100 billion a year. Add that to the value of goods made in the state and sold overseas and foreign trade rises to about 13 percent of California’s gross domestic product.

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