U.S. exports in 2013 reached $2.3 trillion, up nearly $700 billion since 2009, and set a new record for a fourth straight year, according to figures released by the Commerce Department on Thursday.
The U.S. trade deficit also improved $63.1 billion from the past year to $471.5 billion, the lowest since 2009. Merchandise exports to the 20 economies that have trade agreements with the United States reached a record $732 billion.
U.S. goods export sectors reached all-time highs across the board in 2013, including industries such as automotive, industrial supplies, consumer goods, capital goods, and petroleum, while imports of goods decreased for the first time since 2009.
The trade surplus in services exports reached a record $231.6 billion, an increase of 12 percent from 2012, the Commerce Department noted. Annual service exports hit all-time highs led by the travel and tourism sector. In addition, in 2013, the services sector accounted for more than one half of the dollar growth in total U.S. exports compared to 2012.
“American companies clearly understand the value of selling their goods and services all over the world, which not only helps them expand, but also grows our economy and creates good jobs,” said Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker in a statement. “Every $1 billion in additional exports supports approximately 5,000 U.S. jobs, and as such, trade and investment are critical to the strength of our economy.”
President Obama in 2010 launched the National Export Initiative to sell more American goods and services abroad. Expanding trade and investment is also a priority of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”
The Commerce Department continues to lead trade promotion and trade missions to expand markets to U.S. goods and services. Pritzker is currently leading 17 U.S. companies on a business development mission in Mexico, the United States’ third-largest trading partner. In 2013, U.S. goods exports to Mexico reached a record $226.2 billion.
“The U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship is among our closest and most extensive in the world,” she said. “Approximately $1.4 billion of merchandise trade and 1 million people cross our 2,000-mile shared border daily, and I believe there is incredible potential for our companies to do business together and for our countries to continue to deepen our economic relationship.”
Mexico is one of 11 Latin America markets targeted by the Department of Commerce’s new Look South Initiative – a federal government-wide effort to encourage U.S. companies to export to the region through enhanced trade promotion events. U.S. exports to Mexico and South and Central America are growing faster than U.S. trade with the rest of the world.
Among the major export markets (or markets with at least $6 billion in annual imports of U.S. goods), the markets with the largest annualized increase in U.S. goods purchases, when compared to 2009, were Panama (25.9 percent), Russia (20.3 percent), Peru (19.6 percent), Hong Kong (19.2 percent), United Arab Emirates (19.1 percent), Colombia (18.5 percent), Chile (17.1 percent), Ecuador (16.8 percent), Argentina (16.3 percent), and Indonesia (15.5 percent), according to the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, said, “To continue maximizing U.S. export growth, we must further expand market access through trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Trade in Services Agreement and negotiations to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods.” He also encouraged congressional lawmakers to soon take action on the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, noting it’s “essential to ensuring that our negotiators can deliver the most economically beneficial results in these and future trade deals.”