June Exports Set Monthly Record, Could Signal Better Q2 GDP Growth

In addition to breaking records on a state-by-state basis, figures for U.S. exports reached a single month high of $191.2 billion in June. The previous record, set in December 2012, was $188.7 billion.

June's exports were also 2.2% higher than May's. Over the last 12 months, exports of goods and services have totaled $2.2 trillion, which is 41.5% over the level of exports in 2009, the last full year before the Obama Administration launched its National Export Initiative (NEI), the goal of which was to double exports in five years, meaning essentially an annual total of $3 trillion by the end of 2014.

While that level of activity might be too far out of reach in such a short period of time, progress in export growth has remained steady, particularly to countries with which the United States has negotiated free trade agreements (FTAs). Panama and Colombia have developed into increasingly ravenous consumers of U.S. products since the negotiation of their FTAs, and both Latin American countries are regular residents on the list of major export markets with the largest annualized increases in U.S. goods purchases. Certain sectors have also driven U.S. export growth, particularly industrial and agricultural products, both of which contributed to the increase between May and June 2013.

Imports also declined in June by 2.2% which, coupled with the record-setting export figures, shrank the U.S. trade deficit by 22% to a three-year monthly low of $34.2 billion. This drop in the trade gap and increase in exporting activity could mean that the 1.7% second quarter GDP growth figure, released by the U.S. Commerce Department at the end of July, was too low and will need to be revised upward next quarter.

- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer

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