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Oregon exports slow, but still outpace U.S.


Oregon’s export trade moderated in the latest numbers and the state posted one of the slowest year-over-year growth rates since November 2013, according to a Beacon Economics analysis of foreign trade data released Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Oregon is still leading the nation, however, as overall U.S. exports continue to decline. The value of the state’s exports totaled $1.68 billion in February, a 2.5% increase over the same time last year.

Much of the slowdown is due to falling prices. After adjusting for inflation Oregon’s exports were up 7.8% in real terms due to a 4.8% decline in the state’s average export prices. So while this means that the actual volume of exports may be on the rise, revenue growth for the state’s exporters was noticeably lower than in prior months.

Exports of manufactured goods were the primary contributor to the state’s growth in exports since last February. Shipments of these goods totaled $1.25 billion in February, up 3.6% from the same period one year prior. Non-manufactured goods shipments totaled $232.6 million, down 12.4% year-over-year. Re-exports totaled $202.9 million, up 18.3%.

U.S. exports, in comparison, were down 4.5% in February over the same time last year, highlighting Oregon’s role as one of the leading exporters in the nation. Part of the slowdown in national export trade has to do with falling oil prices and a stronger dollar. As oil prices decline so does the price of refined petroleum products the U.S. ships abroad, dragging down the nominal value of total exports. The stronger dollar puts downward pressure on U.S. exports because they become more expensive to overseas buyers who need to purchase the greenback in order to pay for U.S. goods. Slowing growth in China and a weak global economy have also played a role in dampening demand for the nation’s exports.

A Closer Look At The Numbers

Beacon Economics cautions against reading too much into month-to-month fluctuations in state export statistics, Significant variations may occur as the result of unusual developments or exceptional one-off trades and may not be indicative of underlying trends. For that reason, Beacon Economics also compares the latest three months for which data are available (i.e., December–February) with the corresponding period one year earlier. That analysis shows Oregon’s merchandise exports totaled $5.21 billion, an 8.8% nominal increase over the same three-month period last year. After adjusting for prices changes the state’s real export growth increased by 15.5%.

Exports of computer and electronic products remained strong during the December-February period and actually made up 85.3% of the net gains in total exports. Computer and electronic product shipments totaled $2.18 billion, a 19.0% increase over the same period one year prior. This was due primarily to a 19.1% increase in shipments of semiconductors and electronic components, with a large portion going to Malaysia. In real terms these gains were even higher as export prices were down 1.0%.

Transportation equipment exports were the second largest contributor to overall trade growth during the latest three-month period and totaled $392.5 million, a 29.3% increase over the December-February period last year. Shipments of motor vehicles were responsible for the bulk of the net increases in exports of transportation equipment and were up 66.8% over the same time last year due to shipments of Ford vehicles to China.

Agricultural and manufactured food exports led the declines during the December-February period. Totaling $630.7 million and $139.2 million, shipments of these goods were down 7.8% and 18.2%, respectively. Exports of agricultural products were the larger detractor of overall growth however, but much of this was due to lower export prices. During the latest three-month period, average prices for agricultural exports were down 12.5% over the same time period one year prior.

On a regional basis, Asia continued to be the largest destination for the state’s exports, however, in a change of pace, Malaysia took the number one spot this month for the largest contributor to overall trade growth. During the December-February period exports to Malaysia totaled $661.7 billion, up 48.7% from the same time period last year due to a 54.7% surge in shipments of computer and electronic products.

While slipping to the number two spot for contributing to overall trade growth, China remains the largest destination for the state’s exports, and shipments there were up 13.5%. The largest detractor to overall growth was a 29.2% decline in the value of shipments to Vietnam.

Beacon Economics is an independent economic research and consulting firm based in Los Angeles. Learn more at

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