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Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He is a frequent contributor to the Daily Commercial News and the Journal of Commerce. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the Canadian, United States and world construction outlooks. A trusted and often-quoted source for … More »

Fascinating Statistics (for Canada, Saudi Arabia and Others) From the Latest U.S. Foreign Trade Report

 
September 10th, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

This Economy at a Glance examines the most interesting and surprising data from the latest U.S. foreign trade report.

(1) U.S. Oil Imports: Due to the rapid emergence of a domestic hydraulic fracturing industry, plus efficiency improvements and conservation-minded consumer behavior, there is nothing like the former U.S. energy-dependency with the rest of the world.

The steep drop in the global price of oil from a year ago, combined with some extreme exchange rate fluctuations, have rendered the dollar figures on U.S. energy trade confusing.

However, ‘Exhibit 17a’, in July’s publication, released jointly by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), presents the data in ‘barrels’.

‘Barrels’ as a volume measurement carry the same constant-valued connotation as ‘units’ for both housing starts and motor vehicle sales and ‘square footage’ for construction activity.

Year to date, through July of this year, Canada − by a considerable margin − accounted for the largest proportion of U.S. crude oil imports (41.2%). (Keep in mind that this has been without a go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.)

The other Top 10 suppliers are set out in Table 1. It’s a considerable step down, in percentage terms, to second-place Saudi Arabia (15.1%), which is then followed by Venezuela (10.8%), Mexico (10.0%) and Colombia (6.1%).

Let’s look further afield than just the Top 10 and consider some other groupings.

How about the share provided by OPEC nations? Their 36.9% is still short of Canada’s over-40%.

What about only Arab nations within OPEC? Included here would be Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). For those six added together, the slice of total U.S. crude oil imports is presently 20.9%. According to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (IEA), that compares with a much higher 70.0% in 1977.

Summing the shares contributed by nations only located in the Western Hemisphere, − i.e., North America and South America − the figure is almost three-quarters (74.3%).

For North America alone, − Canada, Mexico, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago − it is 51.4%, or more than half.

According to the EIA, U.S. net oil imports as a share of total consumption are now just 27%.

Therefore, the Arab World’s share of total U.S. consumption must be greatly diminished.

Furthermore, there is another ‘metric’ concerning U.S. foreign trade that has not received the media attention it deserves. America’s trade balance with both the OPEC bloc and Saudi Arabia has improved from a longstanding substantial deficit to a minor surplus in several recent months.

One would suppose, that on account of these energy-sector transformations, the geopolitics of America’s engagement with the Middle East would be undergoing dramatic transformation.

While this may not yet be altering the public pronouncements of elected and aspiring politicians, it must surely be influencing behind-the-scenes discussions and decision-making.

(2) U.S. Motor Vehicle Imports: Mexico has taken over as the dominant source of U.S. motor vehicle and parts imports. That country’s share of the total so far in 2015 has been 30.3%.

Second spot belongs to Canada. At 17.0%, its proportion is slightly more than half as great.

Next in line are: Japan (14.7%); Germany (10.5%); and South Korea (7.9%).

Mexico has a particular advantage in the ‘parts’ segment of U.S. auto imports, at 35.0%

I doubt many would guess that the country with the second-largest proportion of U.S. motor vehicle parts imports is China, at 12.7%. Coming third, with 11.7%, is Canada.

Canada (24.3%) ranks ahead of second-place Japan (21.9%) in U.S. passenger car imports, but then falls way back in the ‘trucks, buses and special-purpose vehicles’ designation.

Who’s number one in the latter grouping? Mexico is accounting for a staggering 82.6% of all U.S. van, minivan, SUV, light truck and bus imports (also known collectively as ‘light trucks’).

There is another interesting conclusion to be deduced from the U.S. motor vehicle import statistics. Passenger cars are 46.1% of all such imports and parts are 43.7%, leaving ‘light trucks’ at only 10.2%.

But ‘light trucks’ are the hottest selling items in America’s dealership showrooms. In good news for U.S. manufacturers, the lion’s share of this production must be taking place at home.

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Category: CMD Group

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