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The Department of Commerce today released the official U.S. trade statistics for 2014. Seizing the benefits of international trade and investment is a top priority for Chamber members, so it’s worth taking a moment to see what the numbers tell us:
- Record Exports and Imports: For 2014, exports reached $2,345 billion and imports $2,850 billion. For goods, exports were $1,635 billion and imports were $2,372 billion. For services, exports were $710 billion and imports were $478 billion.
- Slower Growth for Exports: Since the depths of the recession in 2009, U.S. exports of goods and services have risen by 16.6% in 2010, 14.5% in 2011, 4.4% in 2012, 2.8% in 2013, and 2.9% in 2014. Slower economic growth abroad over the past three years has dampened growth in U.S. exports. Continuing slow growth in many key markets means this trend is likely to continue in 2015.
- FTAs Make Big Markets: Goods exports to America’s 20 free-trade agreement (FTA) partners rose by 4.3% to reach $765 billion. These 20 countries purchased nearly half (46.7%) of U.S. goods exports in 2014. This is a remarkable performance given that these countries represent just 10% of global GDP outside the United States. On a per capita basis, these countries purchase 12 times as many U.S. goods and services as non-FTA countries.
- Deficit Rises Slightly… The goods and services deficit was $505 billion in 2014, up from $472 billion in 2013. As a percentage of GDP, the goods and services deficit rose from 2.8% in 2013 to 2.9%, a level still well below the 5.7% reached in 2006.
- …While FTAs Add to Surplus… While the sectoral breakdown for 2014 isn’t yet available, data through November show the United States continues to run a trade surplus in manufactured goods with its FTA partners as a group. This surplus for manufactures again topped $50 billion in 2014—roughly triple its 2010 level. While services data isn’t yet available, it appears that in 2014 the United States again ran an overall trade surplus with its 20 FTA partners.
- …As Do Services … Growth in services exports was led by increases in the travel, transport, charges for the use of intellectual property, and financial services sectors. The U.S. trade surplus in services grew by 2.9% to reach $231.8 billion, underscoring the dynamism and competitiveness of U.S. services industries.
- … And the U.S. Energy Boom: U.S. net imports of petroleum continued their rapid decline. As the American Petroleum Institute pointed out, “from 2013 to 2014, imports fell by $35.6 billion while exports rose by $8.1 billion among petroleum and petroleum products.” The falling bill for energy imports is one more good reason to develop America’s prodigious energy resources.
- Americas First: Canada again edged the EU as the top market for U.S. goods exports in 2014, and the Americas purchased 45.4% of U.S. goods exports—a total greater than the sum of U.S. exports to the Pacific Rim (24.4%) and Europe (20.6%). The nations of the Americas accounted for over half the increase in U.S. merchandise exports over the past five years—twice East Asia’s contribution. Again, America’s extensive network of FTAs in the Western Hemisphere is an advantage.
- Transatlantic Ties Still Bind: As a single market, the EU remains America’s top trading partner (combining exports and imports) when services are included. While U.S. goods exports to the EU have risen by $56 billion over the past five years, the share purchased by the EU has fallen by about 4% in this period (and something similar is likely true for the EU as well). U.S. and EU leaders hope to reverse this trend through the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
- Most Imports from Middle Kingdom: China reaffirmed its position as the top source of U.S. goods imports in 2014 ($467 billion), and it ranks third as a national market for U.S. goods exports (after Canada and Mexico). U.S. goods exports to China and Hong Kong topped $165 billion in 2014, an increase of 82% from 2009—the fastest pace of growth among the top 10 U.S. export markets.