The Commerce Department’s data for manufacturer’s shipments and manufactured goods trade for the first three quarters of 2011 show that both exports and imports of manufactured goods outpaced the growth of the domestic market for manufactured goods.
Manufacturer’s shipments through September stood at $4,008.4 billion, 11.8 percent higher than the comparable figure for 2010. Separating these data into exports and shipments for the domestic market shows that exports grew 16.3 percent while shipments for the domestic market grew 10.4 percent. Exports accounted for 31 percent of the growth of manufacturer’s shipments – almost one-third.
Imports of manufactured goods grew 14.9 percent. While this was less than the growth rate for exports, it was faster than the growth of the domestic market. Consequently, the import share of the domestic market rose to 29.3 percent, up from 28.5 percent for the comparable period of 2010.
The above data show that international trade continues to increase in importance relative to the domestic market. The faster growth of exports than imports is encouraging; but since the value of imports is considerably larger than exports, this means that exports will have to grow even more rapidly relative to imports if the manufactured goods trade deficit is to decrease.
As has been the case for four years now, U.S. manufactured goods trade with U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners continued to be in surplus. Through September, that surplus was $34.6 billion according to the Commerce Department.
Frank Vargo is vice president of international economic affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.
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