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Blog Category: Free trade agreement

U.S. Exports Hit Record High for the Fifth Straight Year

Total Exports in 2014 were 2.35 trillion.

Guest Blog Post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

Trade Agreements Will Help Accelerate Economic Growth

Today, the Commerce Department announced new data that show U.S. businesses exported $2.35 trillion of our goods and services in 2014, hitting a record high for the fifth straight year. U.S. goods exports increased 2.7 percent to a record $1.64 trillion in 2014. Records were set in exports of capital goods; consumer goods; petroleum products; foods, feeds, and beverages; and automotive vehicles and parts. Annual services exports hit an all-time high of $710.3 billion, led by record export levels in the travel, transport, charges for the use of intellectual property, and financial services sectors.

What does this mean for American businesses and American workers? Exports have been a key driver in our economic comeback. Exports support 11.3 million American jobs, and contributed one-third of our annual growth between 2009 and 2013. In some cities– like Kansas City, Albuquerque, Youngstown, Columbus, and Detroit – exports drove nearly all growth out of the recession.

As I have traveled across the United States, speaking with more than 1,500 CEOs and business leaders, I have seen firsthand the way exports are benefiting American companies and workers. Take Davenport Aviation, a certified distributor of spare parts and aviation equipment based in Columbus, Ohio.  Davenport Aviation is a small business – they now have eleven employees – but taking advantage of the global marketplace has helped them grow every year since they opened in 2009. Exports account for 99 percent of their business, and this year, because of increased demand, Davenport Aviation plans to add at least 3-4 new jobs.

All over the country, exporters like Davenport Aviation are growing and creating jobs. While America’s economy is on the right track, we have more work to do to ensure our growth is sustainable. Exports are a critical part of that effort, which is why President Obama has made increased trade a top priority. In today’s global economy, American prosperity is directly tied to our ability to reach new markets and new customers overseas. We know that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, so gaining greater access to markets abroad will allow our companies to expand, hire more workers, and pay better wages here at home.

Enacting trade promotion legislation will give the President the ability to move forward on trade agreements that will open doors for American businesses, including small businesses like Davenport Aviation. Passing trade promotion legislation this year is critical. 

In addition, we must finish and implement two major trade agreements that would open up new markets to U.S. goods and services: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Once completed, these two agreements will give the United States free trade arrangements with 65 percent of global GDP and give our businesses a large base of new potential customers. For example, while the Asia-Pacific is currently home to 570 million middle class consumers, that number is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2030, and this Administration wants our American businesses and workers to have access to that opportunity. 

A Record Year for American Exports, Further Proof of American Greatness

Under Secretary Stefan M. Selig (second from left) discusses the importance of exports as part of a panel discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on February 5, 2015.

Cross blog post by Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade

“The shadow of crisis has passed,” the President declared in his State of the Union two weeks ago, and the export data we released today goes to the heart of that very point.

The Commerce Department announced today that the U.S. economy hit a new annual record for exports, with $2.35 trillion in goods and services shipped in 2014.

That also represents the fifth consecutive year that our economy yielded record exports, going back to 2010 when the President launched the National Export Initiative.

If you take a deeper dive into the numbers, you see that exports are an important chapter in the larger story of our economic recovery.

Last year, we achieved record annual goods exports with Canada ($312 billion), Mexico ($240 billion) and China ($124 billion). In fact, the U.S. economy had record goods exports with 52 countries in 2014.

It was also a banner year when it came to goods exports with our free trade agreement (FTA) markets. You would expect that our exports to these countries would be strong. But last year saw enormous year-over-year growth in a variety of FTA markets throughout the world: up 7% with South Korea, 9% with Guatemala, 10% with Colombia, 11% with the Dominican Republic, and 28% with Oman.

Our services industry also enjoyed a banner year in 2014, hitting an all-time high of $710 billion.

Travel and tourism remained our strongest service export (it is easy to forget that every dollar a foreign visitor spends on airfare, lodging, and entertainment counts as an export dollar) coming in at $182 billion.

It was also a record year for goods exports, exceeding $1.6 trillion. When you take a look at individual sectors, it is easy to see a compelling story.

Exports of passenger cars represented our third-largest source of year-over-year growth—$61 billion in exports—an increase of more than $4 billion. Our three leading export markets for U.S. passenger cars were Canada, China, and Germany.

So What's in the Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea?

Yesterday, President Obama sent three trade agreements to Congress for approval. While each of the trade agreements were negotiated differently, they all share one common goal - to increase opportunities for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers through improved access for their products and services in foreign markets. Each supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015.

All Trade Promotion Agreements have one thing in common. They reduce barriers to U.S. exports, and protect U.S. interests and enhance the rule of law in the partner country. The reduction of trade barriers and the creation of a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment make it easier and cheaper for U.S. companies to export their products and services to trading partner markets.This results in jobs here in America.

The most common question about these agreements is, "What exactly is in them?" Below the fold are some of the key specifics for each agreement.

Tariff Tool Demystifies U.S. Trade Agreements for Manufacturers

Guest blog by Justin Hoffmann, International Economist in the Office of Trade Policy Analysis.

Manufacturers who are looking to expand into new markets are often faced with myriad questions about tariffs and barriers to these new markets. Figuring out which products have what tariffs can be a very frustrating and time consuming process. That is why the International Trade Agency has developed a Free Trade Agreement Tariff Tool to help manufacturers quickly find the information they need.

For manufacturers, America’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners can be an attractive markets because these negotiated agreements eliminate tariffs, remove non-tariff barriers, and secure non-discriminatory treatment for U.S. goods and services.

While these agreements bring many benefits for manufacturers, they can be confusing. For example, in the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, the tariff schedules alone for that agreement go on for nearly a thousand pages. If a manufacturer is dedicated enough to slog through the pages to find out where his specific product is in the tariff schedule, he will learn, for example, that the tariff charged on his product before the agreement went into effect is 20 percent. Additionally, after some further digging around the agreement text, the exporter would also learn that the tariff on his product “shall be removed in ten equal annual stages beginning on the date this Agreement enters into force, and such goods shall be duty-free, effective January 1 of year ten”.

It is pretty clear that these lengthy documents are crafted by trade negotiators and lawyers and are really not written for U.S. manufacturers who are simply trying to export their goods to new markets.

The good news is that the FTA Tariff Tool provides this information instantly and almost effortlessly.

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FTA Tariff Tool Transcript