The full-year 2011 trade figures released today by the Commerce Department showed that the overall deficit in Goods and Services trade grew to $558 billion, up $58 billion from 2010. The manufactured goods deficit was $450 billion. Petroleum trade was also in deficit, by $150 billion. These deficits were partially offset by surpluses in services trade and agriculture.
As has been the case for the past three years, manufactured goods trade was remarkably different with U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners and non-partners. Manufacturers in the U.S. racked up a $50 billion trade surplus with FTA partners – more than doubling the 2010 surplus of $21 billion.
Manufactured goods trade with non-partners, unfortunately was in deficit by $500 billion. Over the past three years, the manufactured goods surplus with FTA partners cumulated to $100 billion. During that same three year period, the manufactured goods trade deficit with non-partners totaled to $1.3 trillion.
Manufactured goods exports to the world reached $1.26 trillion in 2011, up 15 percent over 2010. FTA partners were the highlight, with exports to them growing one-fourth faster than to non-partners.
The rate of growth for the whole year was on the 15 percent annual growth track needed to double in five years, but a troublesome sign was that the growth fell to an annual rate of 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter – the first quarter to be below the needed path. An important part of the reason was that manufactured goods export growth to the important European Union market (second only to NAFTA) slipped dramatically, to only 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter. This shows that the European economic difficulties are already impacting the United States. (continue reading…)