Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
“The shadow of crisis has passed,” the President declared in his State of the Union two weeks ago, and the export data we released today goes to the heart of that very point.
The Commerce Department announced today that the U.S. economy hit a new annual record for exports, with $2.35 trillion in goods and services shipped in 2014.
That also represents the fifth consecutive year that our economy yielded record exports, going back to 2010 when the President launched the National Export Initiative.
If you take a deeper dive into the numbers, you see that exports are an important chapter in the larger story of our economic recovery.
Last year, we achieved record annual goods exports with Canada ($312 billion), Mexico ($240 billion) and China ($124 billion). In fact, the U.S. economy had record goods exports with 52 countries in 2014.
It was also a banner year when it came to goods exports with our free trade agreement (FTA) markets. You would expect that our exports to these countries would be strong. But last year saw enormous year-over-year growth in a variety of FTA markets throughout the world: up 7% with South Korea, 9% with Guatemala, 10% with Colombia, 11% with the Dominican Republic, and 28% with Oman.
Our services industry also enjoyed a banner year in 2014, hitting an all-time high of $710 billion.
Travel and tourism remained our strongest service export (it is easy to forget that every dollar a foreign visitor spends on airfare, lodging, and entertainment counts as an export dollar) coming in at $182 billion.
It was also a record year for goods exports, exceeding $1.6 trillion. When you take a look at individual sectors, it is easy to see a compelling story.
Exports of passenger cars represented our third-largest source of year-over-year growth—$61 billion in exports—an increase of more than $4 billion. Our three leading export markets for U.S. passenger cars were Canada, China, and Germany.
The second largest source of growth in 2014 was industrial machines. Strong increases to Canada, South Korea, Mexico and China led the U.S. to a $5 billion increase in this category.
Then, there is crude oil exports, which rose by a staggering 136%—$7 billion—between 2013 and 2014. That represented the largest export increase of any single category.
When you look at these three points, it is clear that they speak to more than exports. They all speak to our impressive recovery and to the sources of our enormous economic strength: a resurgent auto industry, a robust manufacturing sector, and a booming domestic energy market.
The data we see today prove what I often say: that trade is not a threat to American greatness. It is an expression of it.
We export the best goods and services in the world, produced by the best workforce in the world. These exports support more than 11 million American jobs in 2013. 1.6 million of those jobs emerged since the President took office in 2009.
And I am proud to say that ITA is the leading agency in the world when it comes to helping businesses compete in the global marketplace.
The shadow of crisis has indeed passed. The numbers reflect the strength of our exports, our economy and the prospect for a bright future for American workers and American businesses.