U.S. exports in 2007 — a modern record

Again, a really interesting “Trade Fact of the Week” from the Progressive Policy Institute.  With all the negative talk about trade, PPI points out that last year — 2007 — broke the modern record for U.S. exports as a percentage of GDP.  The 2007 figure was a whopping 11.7 percent — according to some economists, not seen since about 1810.

Here’s what PPI noted:

In 2007, Americans produced $13.8 trillion worth of goods and services. Of this total, $1.64 trillion — 11.7 percent, or a bit more than one in nine dollars’ worth of production — went overseas. The figure is a modern-era record, eclipsing the old 11.2 percent mark set in 2000 and reflecting a $175 billion jump in goods and services exports. This was the largest increase ever — in real-dollar as well as current-dollar terms — and was the main factor keeping the United States out of recession in the autumn and winter.

Also, exports to Peru soared as the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement went into effect January 2008 — nearly double the exports for January 2007:

Those searching for scarce good news can find some in January’s trade report. This suggested another export-boom year ahead, with sales to China, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East all continuing to soar, while exports to Mexico, Canada, and Japan began to perk up. Interesting note as well: Last year’s U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement entered into force in January, and exports to Peru hit $420 million, nearly double the $240 million for January 2007. Worsening news from the real estate, financial-market, and consumer sectors mean exporters may not be able to fend off a national recession this year. But their likely trio of round-number records — $1 trillion in manufacturing exports, $500 billion in services exports, $100 billion in farm exports — will ease its ferocity.

Some historical perspective is usually part of PPI’s analysis.  Here’s a tidbit about the major U.S. exports in 1795 I found interesting:

American statisticians have counted exports ever since the 1780s, but didn’t start counting GDP until the 1920s. The very early republic, with 3 million citizens stretched out along a ribbon of coastal land, relied exceptionally heavily on exports. Alexander Hamilton’s Treasury Department counted $48 million in exports of Massachusetts salt cod, Carolina indigo, Pennsylvania iron ore, and Virginia tobacco in 1795. A modern estimate places GDP in that year at $380 million, meaning exports would have been 18 percent or so of GDP.