Commerce Department trade data for March 2011 released today show that the U.S. manufactured goods trade surplus with free trade agreement (FTA) partners is in its fourth year, and in fact is growing over 2010. The January-March 2011 manufactured goods surplus with FTA partners was $9.2 billion, compared to $5.6 billion for the year-earlier period.
The global deficit in U.S. manufactured goods trade for the first three months of 2011 was $100.1 billion, considerably larger than the $76.2 billion amount for the same period of 2010. The manufactured goods deficit with non-FTA partners for January-March 2011 was $109.3 billion, compared to $81.8 billion for the same period of 2010.
To conduct this detailed analysis of March trade figures, the National Association of Manufacturers relied on Census Bureau data from the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) Categories 31-33, which are comparable to U.S. production and domestic shipments data.
The January-March manufactured goods deficit with China was $67.7 billion, two-thirds of the global total. The comparable figure for 2011 was $56.7 billion. The manufactured goods deficit with the European Union also increased significantly, to $23.3 billion for January-March 2011 compared to $14.7 billion for the year-earlier period.
In terms of percentage growth, exports of manufactured goods were up 16.1 percent for the first three months of the year, with exports to FTA partners outpacing non-partners. Manufactured goods exports to FTA partners were up 18.2 percent, while the growth to non-partners was 14.7 percent.
Imports of manufactured goods grew 19.7 percent for the first three months, with imports from non-partners growing 21.4 percent while imports from FTA partners rose 15.6 percent.
In terms of dollar change, the largest growth in manufactured goods exports for the first three months was to NAFTA, where exports were up $15.7 billion. Latin America followed with an increase of $6.3 billion, and the European Union with $5.7 billion. Manufactured goods exports to China rose $2.1 billion.
The European Union led the dollar growth of manufactured imports into the United States, up $14.1 billion, followed by China which was up $13.1 billion, and NAFTA which was up $12.9 billion.
Frank Vargo is vice president of international economic affairs for the NAM.