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California exports robust…for now

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California’s trade picture has been brightening of late and should maintain its current course at least through the first part of 2017, says Robert Kleinhenz, economist and executive director at Beacon Economics. He adds that despite the uncertainty about the future direction of U.S. trade policy with the incoming Administration, there are plenty of reasons to remain bullish on the future.That said, however, he cautions that continuation of “harmonious relations” with California’s principal trading partners may have been dealt further setbacks by the recent Trump administration appointments of Peter Navarro to head a new National Trade Council and by the nomination of Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative.“Both Navarro and Lighthizer have exhibited a peculiar animus toward China, and neither is likely to restrain President Donald Trump from pursuing aggressive measures aimed at slashing U.S. merchandise trade deficits with China and Mexico,” says Kleinhenz.Along with several other regional think tanks, Beacon Economics believes the incoming administration’s focus on the trade deficit with China is misconstrued and over-wrought. A large portion of what is reported as a deficit with China is really an artifact of economic accounting practices that ignore the foreign content in many goods the U.S. imports from China.Apart from depriving American consumers of a vast array of goods essential to modern lifestyles, Beacon maintains that slamming the door on Chinese imports would increase our trade imbalances with other nations.“The fact is the United States has not consistently run a surplus in its merchandise trade since 1970, and the last surplus was recorded in 1975,” observes Jock O’Connell, Beacon Economics’ International Trade Advisor. “The country seems to have done rather well since.”Indeed, analysis of U.S. trade statistics released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau, indicates that exports to California’s major Pacific Rim trading partners saw a healthy 17.4% jump in November.The gains were reflected in the increased volume of outbound traffic at the state’s principal international trade gateways. Export tonnage at Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport were up a combined 11.1%. Meanwhile, the number of outbound loaded containers sailing from the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland grew by an almost identical margin (11.2%) over November year-to-date.California’s largest export ocean cargo gateway – The Port of Oakland – has been especially bullish in its forecast for 2017, if political headwinds do not diminish trade opportunities.Port spokesmen say its total 2016 volume equaled

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