A strong dollar and uncertain global macroeconomic outlook has led observers to forecast a 2.4 percent drop in U.S. exports this year, but the makeup of that decline is not uniform and some regions have even seen their number of U.S. exports increase.
Africa and the Mediterranean are the primary culprits behind the drop in U.S. exports, posting first-half declines of 16 and 13 percent on a year-over-year basis, respectively, according to PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS.
Africa’s 16 percent first-half decline is in line with a trend that began when commodity prices collapsed in 2012 and 2013. When commodity prices were stable in 2011 and 2012, U.S. exports to Africa increased 13 percent but then fell 11 percent from 2013 to 2014 and 2015’s first-half drop indicates this decline will continue. Africa’s decline has been driven by large drops in vehicle, animal product and machinery exports.
The largest market for containerized U.S. exports to Africa, South Africa, provides a microcosm of these changes. Its number of U.S. exports grew 2 percent from 2011 to 2012, but shrank 6 percent from 2013 to 2014, and its first-half figures are down 12 percent from 2014.
The 13 percent first-half drop in the Mediterranean, whose wobbly economies include Spain, Greece, and Italy, represents an acceleration of a trend that saw its number of U.S. exports fall 2 percent annually from 2011 to 2014. This decline is fueled by large decreases in exports of textiles, vehicles, and animal products.
Turkey, the U.S.’s largest destination for containerized exports in the Mediterranean, represents this trend as its number of U.S. exports fell 2 percent from 2011 to 2012; 7 percent from 2013 to 2014, and in the first half of 2015 U.S. exports to Turkey are down 24 percent from the same period last year.
Regions that have seen an increase in their number of U.S. exports in the first-half of 2015 on a year-over-year basis include Central America and Southeast Asia, which saw increases of 10 and 6 percent, respectively.
U.S. exports bound for Central America increased 5 percent from 2011 to 2012, and contracted .1 percent between 2013 and 2014 before growing 10 percent in the first half of 2015 on a year-over-year basis. Vehicles, foodstuffs, and base metals are the primary drivers of this growth.
Southeast Asia’s number of U.S. exports decreased 6 percent from 2011 to 2012, before growing 2 percent from 2013 to 2014, and 2015’s first-half figures are up 6 percent from the same period in 2014. The primary products behind this increase are textiles, machinery, and vehicles.
Vietnam, the second-largest destination for U.S. exports in Southeast Asia mirrors this trend. Its number of U.S. exports fell 11 percent from 2011 to 2012, but grew 3 percent from 2013 to 2014 before jumping 15 percent in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2014.
Source: Dustin Braden at firstname.lastname@example.org.