Print PDF

Merchandise Exports, Imports and Trade Deficit All Up in 2014, ITC Report Finds

Friday, July 03, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The International Trade Commission has updated its annual compendium of data and analysis examining changes in trade with key U.S. partners and in important industries to add new interactive features and a discussion of evolving approaches to analyzing trade data. The “Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2014” report focuses on changes in U.S. exports and imports in the agricultural and manufacturing industries and key natural resources as well as changes in U.S. trade with China, Japan, the European Union and sub-Saharan Africa. Industry and market profiles for ten sectors that include trade data for 2010-2014 are included as well.

This year’s report features a discussion that defines common U.S. trade metrics and examines ways that changes in U.S. trade flows have affected certain trade measures. The ITC states that as U.S. trade and international distribution chains become more complex, companies are diversifying their options for moving intermediates and finished goods to market. Reexports are a growing part of U.S. trade, and recent modifications to the way foreign-trade zones are set up and operated make these zones more useful for reexport purposes. The report addresses this trend in two ways: by describing trade data statistics and offering a detailed discussion of the impact that changes in distribution methods, FTZs and reexports have on those statistics; and by using a variety of trade measures to allow a more inclusive look at the composition of U.S. trade flows.

The report is published only in a Web-based format to optimize the use of new interactive features. In-line interactive graphics integrated with the analyses appear at the top of each trading partner/region and sector webpage, and these graphics are augmented by data analysis tools that present a series of dashboards displaying U.S. merchandise trade data at various levels of aggregation.

Highlights of this year’s report include the following.

Total Exports. The value of U.S. total exports grew by $43.9 billion (2.8 percent), in part because of the depreciation of the U.S. dollar during the first half of 2014 as well as the 7 percent expansion of the Chinese economy, the United States’ third-largest export market. Three sectors accounted for just over half the overall value of U.S. total exports in 2014: transportation equipment, electronics and chemicals.

Reexports. Reexports’ share of U.S. total exports has been growing annually as firms increasingly use the U.S. as a distribution hub, particularly for merchandise destined to NAFTA countries. In 2014, reexports were valued at $221.2 billion (14 percent of U.S. total exports). The top three sectors were footwear (43 percent), electronics (37 percent) and textiles and apparel (19 percent). Within each of these sectors, reexports were concentrated within individual industry segments (e.g., telecommunications equipment in the electronics sector).

Imports. The value of U.S. general imports rose by $76.9 billion (3.4 percent), driven by the stronger U.S. economy and the corresponding upturn in personal spending and business investment. Three sectors accounted for just over half the overall value of U.S. general imports in 2014: electronics, transportation equipment and energy.

Trade Flows. U.S. trade flows with the four key trading partners/regions profiled in this year’s report accounted for about 30 percent of U.S. total exports and almost half of U.S. general imports. U.S. trade balances with these partners/regions fluctuated; deficits with China and the EU continued to increase, while those with Japan and sub-Saharan Africa declined. Energy products and transportation equipment contributed to these changes, accounting for the largest shifts in value in both U.S. total exports and U.S. general imports.

To get news like this in your inbox daily, subscribe to the Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report.

Customs & International Headlines