U.S. Exports to Arab World
Grew 15 Percent in 2011
New Trade Data Indicate U.S. Merchandise
Exports to MENA Region Are Highest Ever --
$56.18 Billion -- Despite Arab Spring
According to new data analyzed by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), 2011 was a surprisingly good year for U.S. exports to the Arab world. Based on initial 2011 data and revised 2010 figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. goods exports to the Arab world increased from $48.77 billion in 2010 to $56.18 billion in 2011, an increase of 15.2 percent and the highest single-year sales volume ever. (Click here to see a ranking of the 22 countries of the Arab world by sales volumes, by percentage of change from 2010 to 2011, and alphabetized by country.)
David Hamod, President & CEO of the U.S.-Arab Chamber, stated, "The initial results of our Chamber's research suggest that U.S. exports to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) continue to grow steadily, despite the economic turbulence of this past year. We are very encouraged by these numbers, and we are cautiously optimistic that America's export trends to the region will continue to move in the right direction."
The findings are consistent with the Chamber's research that shows U.S. exports of goods and services to the Arab world growing to $117 billion by the end of next year. (Click here to see NUSACC's 2013 forecast.)
Riding on the strength of commercial and military aircraft sales, the largest category of goods exported was Transportation Equipment, constituting $17.58 billion (31.3 percent) of total U.S. goods shipped to the Arab world. Other "Top Five" export sectors included Non-Electrical Machinery ($7.53 billion, 13.4 percent), Agricultural Products ($4.97 billion, 8.85 percent), Computer & Electronic Products ($4.21 billion, 7.5 percent), and Food & Kindred Products (3.44 billion, 6.12 percent).
Importing countries were led by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, particularly the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which together accounted for more than half of all U.S. merchandise exports to the Arab world (52.9 percent). Egypt retained its position as the third largest Arab market for U.S. goods, despite a drop in sales of nearly 10 percent, probably attributable to unrest in that nation. Morocco moved up to the #4 position, presumably on the strength of the Morocco-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and Qatar and Kuwait filled out the top half-dozen importing nations. It is worth noting that Iraq, from which U.S. troops withdrew in 2011, grew to $2.43 billion in U.S. export sales, representing a surge of nearly half again as many exports as in 2010 (i.e.- an increase of 48.1 percent).
In 2011, the United Arab Emirates was the top U.S. export partner in the Arab world, importing $15.89 billion in goods from the United States, a 36.2 percent increase over 2010. The top three import sectors were Transportation Equipment ($5.89 billion), Computer & Electronic Products ($1.91 billion), and Non-Electrical Machinery ($1.74 billion).
Saudi Arabia was the second largest market for U.S. goods, importing $13.82 billion in 2011, a 19.6 percent increase since 2010 data were made available. Top import sectors included Transportation Equipment ($4.95 billion), Non-Electrical Machinery ($2.64 billion), and Chemicals ($925 million).
Egypt, the third largest Arab import market for U.S. goods, declined slightly from $6.84 billion in 2010 to $6.18 billion in 2011. This represents a 9.5 percent decrease, presumably attributable to unrest in that nation. Top imports included Agricultural Products ($1.92 billion), Transportation Equipment ($823 million), and Food & Kindred Products ($559 million).
Morocco moved into the "Top Five Arab Markets" for the first time in memory, with U.S. goods imports totaling over $2.86 billion in 2011, a 47 percent increase over 2010. The top three sectors were Petroleum & Coal Products ($689 million), Food & Kindred Products ($653 million), and Transportation Equipment ($499 million).
The fifth largest Arab market for U.S. goods was Qatar, which imported over $2.8 billion worth of merchandise in 2011, a decrease of 11.5 percent. Largest import sectors included Transportation Equipment ($1.54 billion), Non-Electrical Machinery ($290 million), and Computer & Electronic Products ($177 million).
Other top export partners were Kuwait ($2.73 billion, -1.7 percent), Iraq ($2.43 billion, +48.1 percent), Lebanon ($1.81 billion, -10 percent), Algeria ($1.59 billion, +33.1 percent), Jordan ($1.45 billion, +23.9 percent), Oman ($1.43 billion, +29.8 percent), and Bahrain ($1.21 billion, -2.9 percent).
Aside from Bahrain, which experienced considerable unrest last year, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) nations fared very well in 2011, with U.S. goods exports growing on average more than one-third (33 percent) in 2011. To date, the United States has signed FTAs with four Arab nations: Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, and Oman. Since 1999, the U.S. has entered into ten Trade & Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with Arab nations -- Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. In the same vein, under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), three Arab nations -- Comoros, Djibouti, and Mauritania -- are eligible to receive trade incentives for their continued efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
NUSACC's David Hamod concluded, "It has been a challenging year for parts of the Arab world, but it is heartening to note that, in general, the observable decline in shipments to certain countries has been more than offset by overall gains in U.S. exports in 2011. This bodes well for U.S. competitiveness in the region and growth in employment opportunities here at home."