Record Growth in U.S. Exports

March’s exports of U.S. goods and services—$172.7 billion—was the largest monthly total in nearly two decades. This number surpassed the previous record of $167.5 billion, which occurred in January 2011, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Commerce Department.

Unfortunately, the U.S. trade deficit also grew in March to $48.2 billion—the highest since June 2010—from $45.4 billion in February, driven by high oil prices. Nonetheless, the 4.6 percent rise in U.S. exports showed strength in U.S. agriculture and industrial supplies.

Exports of goods and services over the last twelve months totaled $1.9 trillion, putting U.S. exports 20.9 percent above the level of exports in 2009. Over the last twelve months, exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 16.4 percent when compared to 2009, a pace greater than the 15 percent required to double exports by the end of 2014. A weaker dollar has made U.S. goods cheaper overseas and exports also have risen because of the rapid growth in developing countries.

Exports increased in a wide range of industries: industrial supplies and materials ($9.9 billion); capital goods ($4.0 billion); foods, feeds, and beverages ($2.4 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($2.4 billion); and consumer goods ($0.7 billion). A decrease occurred in other goods ($0.5 billion).

Over the last 12 months, among the major export markets (i.e., markets with at least $6 billion in annual imports of U.S. goods), the countries with the largest annualized increase in U.S. goods purchases, when compared to 2009, occurred in Turkey (57.3 percent), South Africa (37.9 percent), Panama (36.1 percent), Taiwan (34.6 percent), Peru (34.2 percent), Brazil (33.3 percent), Argentina (33.1 percent), Malaysia (31.7 percent), Thailand (31.2 percent), and China (30.3 percent).