NAM Sees Continued Improvement from November Trade Data

The Commerce Department’s trade data released today for November 2006 showed continued improvement in U.S. manufactured goods trade, according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

“The critical role of manufactured goods is shown by the fact that they accounted for 62 percent of total exports in November,” said Frank Vargo, NAM’s vice president of international economic affairs. “The improvement in the manufactured goods trade balance accounted for virtually all of the $700 million November gain. November marked the 13 consecutive month that the growth of manufactured goods exports outpaced growth in imports, which is good news.”

November 2006 manufactured goods exports were up 15 percent from November 2005, while manufactured goods imports were up 10 percent. Manufactured exports were paced by a 20 percent increase in exports of advanced technology products. All other manufactured goods exports were up 12 percent.

Looking at trade for the year-to-date, the NAM said the January-November manufactured goods deficit was $486 billion. Over 80 percent of the deficit, or $404 billion, was with Asia, and $222 billion of that was with China.

“Our exports to China are growing at a blistering 31 percent pace,” said Vargo. “However, it will take that rate or better, along with a realistic currency valuation and more market access, to begin making significant headway against the deficit with China.”

Elsewhere, the deficits with both NAFTA and the European Union shrunk this year as the manufactured goods deficit with NAFTA through November was $34 billion, down about $2 billion from the comparable part of 2005.

“While NAFTA accounts for nearly 40 percent of our exports, it is only 7 percent of the deficit,” Vargo said. “This illustrates the positive impact of free trade agreements.”

The manufactured goods deficit with the European Union through November was $87 billion -- down about $5 billion from last year.

“While still small, the shrinkage in our manufactured goods deficit with the European Union is the first improvement in our bilateral manufactures trade in 10 years,” Vargo said. “In part this reflects the return of the euro to more normal levels against the dollar.”

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