While trade is an international issue, for California — a state that accounts for 10% of U.S. exports — the impact of trade policy is immense. President Barack Obama signed the National Export Initiative in 2010, aiming to double U.S. exports over five years. Fast-forward to 2012, and California exports were still growing regardless of the slowdown in the world economy.
"If the markets are down, you would expect exports to be flat … but California isn't following that trend," said Jock O'Connell, an international trade adviser for Beacon Economics.
California has one of the 10 largest economies in the world, and in its volume of exports it's second only to Texas among the states. California exports raked in $161.9 billion in 2012, a 72% increase from 2003.
"It's the nature of the product that we produce," O'Connell said. "It's the really high-tech stuff that's the hallmark of California exports."
From 2009, the starting point for the National Export Initiative, through 2012, California's exports of goods grew 35%, compared with national growth of 46%, according to federal trade data.
Computer and electronic product manufacturing was the largest California export in 2012, pulling in $44.8 billion. That's a 22% hike from 10 years ago, when it grossed $36.7 billion.
Transportation equipment, which totaled $16.1 billion in exports in 2012, saw an 88% increase in exports compared with 2003.
The state sells to about 225 foreign markets. Top countries shipped to in 2012 include Mexico ($26.4 billion), Canada ($17.4 billion), China ($14 billion), Japan ($13 billion) and South Korea ($8.2 billion), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Also notable is the significant increase in petroleum and coal exports from the state.
The commodity saw a 565% jump from 2003 to 2012.
The robust increase is the result of a mixture of factors, including stricter environmental regulations that decrease the local demand for gasoline and ultimately increase exports.
California's resourcefulness, combined with its diverse economy, helps sustain its position as a top exporter.
"California's strength lies in its broad-based economy. Technology, the entertainment industry, tourism, agriculture and even manufacturing are large drivers of growth," said Irena Asmundson, the chief economist for the California Department of Finance.