Exports have played a critical role in the electrical manufacturing industry’s ability to weather the global downturn, Timothy J. Gill, director of economics for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association said at a recent economic forum in Washington.
The industry -- which produces motors, circuit breakers, transformers and other equipment for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity – has become very globalized. Sixteen percent of factory shipments for lighting are now exported compared to 10 percent in the late 1990s and the share of non-lighting products being exported has grown to a third of all shipments from the low-20 percentile in the late 1990s, Gill said at the National Association of Manufacturers’ event on Oct. 19.
Imports now represent 45 percent of the industry’s U.S. sales and 40 percent of the sales for other equipment, he said.
The top three export destinations for electrical equipment are Mexico, Canada and China, which are the top export markets for U.S. goods overall. Electrical manufacturers annually export more than $1.2 billion to South Korea, which is now one of the top 10 destinations for U.S. electrical equipment. Gill said the new free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea will have a “significant impact” on industry growth.
Exports have been one of the nation’s few robust growth areas during the recession and slow recovery. U.S. goods and services exports in the first seven months of the year are up 16 percent to $1.2 trillion and are chipping away at the large trade deficit, which is why the Obama administration is hard at work trying to make it easier for companies to sell their products overseas.- Eric Kulish