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Global Trade in California

In 2019, California businesses exported $173 billion in goods to 229 countries. Hundreds of thousands of California jobs are supported by exports – quality jobs that pay above the national average. There are more than 70,000 exporters in California, the vast majority of which are small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

California is home to the two largest ports in all of the United States — Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles. Together, these two ports exported nearly half of all California’s exports. California’s primary trade partners are Mexico, Canada and China, followed by Japan, South Korea and Germany.

California is a top exporter of computers, electronic products, transportation equipment, machinery, and miscellaneous manufactured commodities. Other top categories included agricultural products, chemicals, food manufactures, and electrical equipment.

“California is the world leader in innovation and leads the nation in startups. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and when a small business thrives, California thrives,” said Kaina Pereira, Deputy Director for Business Investment Services. “Trade promotion programs give our California businesses the job skills and training needed to compete for and maintain global market share.” 


Global Trade Sector Strategy

Projects to establish foundation for regional work

Statewide Analysis of Global Trade Programs and Regional Assessment


Over 2 million students enrolled statewide in eCommerce


Global Trade Sector Report

Get more information on the industry, programs, and employment. 

sector report
industry research report
statewide summary global trade report


A Global Phenomenon

0 %

Of online shoppers have made at least one purchase from a merchant abroad
— PFS Web, 2017

0 %

Of online shoppers feel it is not important if the online retailer is based overseas or not
— Paypal IPOS Survey, 2015

0 %

Frequent web shoppers make 24% of their purchases from websites outside of their home country
— UPS, 2017


Cross-border online sales will reach $1 trillion by 2020
— DHL, 2017


Cross-border eCommerce growth is 27% greater than domestic

United States
14.6% growth year over year

18.6% growth year over year

Cross border eCommerce will double over the next five years to reach $424 billion by 2021.
(*Forrester cross-border growth, *eMarketer report)


eCommerce is Global Trade

Key Considerations when using eCommerce for cross-border trade


In order to implement a successful break into the eCommerce market, businesses should thoroughly plan each step they will need to complete. During the planning phase, a business needs to create a strategy for the product(s) they are intending to sell. They also need to begin to do preliminary research on factors such as the regional demographics, economic and political climate of the region, as well as creating a timeline of progress to check off as they navigate an eCommerce implementation project.

Markets Matter: Do Your Research

While it might seem obvious, business owners need to do research and know what products they currently produce would be viable in another market. First, one must consider which country or region they wish to enter. Each region has both its own challenges and advantages. This is where knowing a culture and language differences can play a role in product viability, so one needs to consider the target market’s specific nuances.

Barriers to Business

The main barrier to business in foreign countries are regulations. Regulations can vary from country to country as well as from region to region. These regulations can be broken down into several groups such as taxes and duties, customs, free-trade agreements, and banned products. Taxes and duties on imports and exports from countries can be different depending on both country and the individual product. It should be noted that on some items over $200 a customer might be responsible for the import tax (PayPal). One may also consider requesting signature confirmation so you are not liable if the customer claims a package never arrived.

Marketing Internationally for eCommerce

When marketing internationally for an eCommerce site there are several major factors to consider such as making a site that is internationally friendly and localized, as well as leveraging social media. An individual’s experience on an eCommerce website can make or break a sale of a product. Sites that are internationally friendly leverage localization tools. The main area of concern for the sale of any product is a good translation. Gagan Mehra suggests localizing checkout flow first, then the product catalog, and lastly the instructional text on pages (Low Budget Ways to Sell Internationally). A business might also consider using localized imagery, wording, and slogans if building a localized website to sell products.


The logistics of shipping goods from one country to another can be expensive. Several courier companies help businesses ship to overseas markets such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL. ShipRocket also can get products to countries all over the world (sometimes at a reduced rate). Utilize tools such as shipping calculators and be sure to choose a reliable carrier, as well as setting delivery expectations. Estimates given to customers should be clear and not cause any ambiguity. A business should always have a clear-cut return policy for goods.


Global B2B eCommerce

0 %

of the world’s buying power exists outside the United States.


Germany has is one of the strongest economic powers in Europe. With a population of almost 82 million people, online sales in Germany topped 59.7billion Euros in 2015. Germany is known for its manufacturing and technological industries. Since 2012 eCommerce sales have grown over 25%. Want to learn more?

Germans have come up with some of the world’s most famous inventions, including the lightbulb, the automated calculator, and the automobile.


Japan has a population of 128 million with a GDP of $5,420 billion as of 2017. Some of Japan’s largest imports are machinery and equipment. Japanese eCommerce generated $80 billion in sales in 2015. Marketplaces are popular, and 80% of Japanese consumers shop online; and mobile commerce is increasingly popular.

Japan imports approximately 8% of Jamaica’s annual coffee production!

South Korea

South Korea is technologically advanced and is one of the world’s most innovative countries. It is home to name brands like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. South Korea has one of the most educated populations in Asia. It is the world’s 5th largest exporter and 7th largest importer in the world. South Korea is also one of the biggest eCommerce markets worldwide, with the volume anticipated to increase to 32.56 billion U.S. dollars by 2021.

Some South Korean men love makeup, spending close to US$900 million a year, or a quarter of the world’s men’s cosmetics. Up to 20% of the male Korean population is reported to use makeup regularly.

U.A.E. – Dubai

UAE is a federal monarchy located on the Persian Gulf. One of the Emirates is Dubai. The UAE is unusual in that 1.4 million of its population is Emirati citizens, and another 7.8 million are expatriates. The UAE has the second largest GDP in the gulf. In 2020, Dubai will hold the next World Expo. Online shopping in Middle Eastern countries has grown 1500% in the last decade. The UAE’s eCommerce is growing at a rate of approximately 20% annually, with 80% of the population on the Internet.

With more than 70 shopping centers, Dubai has been called the “shopping capital of the Middle East.”


France has the European Union’s second largest economy. France is the world’s sixth largest exporter and fourth largest importer of manufactured goods. With a population of 67 million, France is the 20th most populous country in the world, and third most populous in Europe. Online retail has continued to grow and increased by 14.3% in 2015. eCommerce is now 2.97% of France’s GDP.

The French government gives medals, La Médaille de La Famille Française (Medal of the French Family), to citizens who have successfully raised several children with dignity.


Global Diversity

Check out this great video on Global Trade, Diversity and Entrepreneurship.