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U.S. Breaks Export Records in 2011

U.S. exports of goods and services hit landmark, after landmark, after landmark in 2011. It seems appropriate then, that statistics released last week confirm last year as the biggest ever for U.S. companies selling abroad.

According to 2011 trade numbers released by the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. goods and services exports in 2011 were up by 14.5% or $265.5 billion from the same period of 2010, reaching a record annual total of $2.1 trillion. Most individual merchandise categories also experienced record export levels in 2011.

The Commerce Department’s most recent release also included figures for December 2011, which showed an increase of 0.7% in exports of goods and services from November’s numbers. December’s exports of services also set a single-month record of $51.7 billion.

All in all, over the last twelve months, exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 15.6% when compared to 2009, a pace greater than the 15% required to double exports by the end of 2014, a deadline set by President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative. "U.S. exports posted a record $2.1 trillion in 2011, helping to fuel the positive momentum we have seen in the U.S. economy as a whole. Given the growth over the past two years, we remain on track to realize the president’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014," said Commerce Secretary John Bryson. "The private sector has recorded 23 consecutive months of job growth, creating 3.7 million jobs, and U.S. manufacturers have added 404,000 American jobs in the last two years, the strongest growth since the 1990s."

Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) Chairman Fred Hochberg also cheered the news, and again pledged the bank’s resources to the continued success of international trade. "U.S. exports play an essential role in our economic recovery, and it's vital that we provide American business owners with the resources they need to compete in a 21st century global economy," he said. "Ex-Im Bank remains committed to reaching new customers and to helping level the playing field for our nation's exporters."

The major export markets with the largest annualized increase in U.S. goods purchases were Turkey (43.6%), Panama (38.6%), Honduras (35.0%), Argentina (33.2%), Hong Kong (31.7%), Chile (30.3%), Peru (30.0%), Brazil (28.3%), South Africa (28.0%) and Guatemala (26.6%).

Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer