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New Govt. Report Spotlights Importance of U.S. Exports of Private Services

America's exports of private services exceed a half trillion dollars (an all-time high) and are responsible for nearly one-third of all our nation's exports of goods and services. So says a new report issued Wednesday by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA).

Highlights of the "U.S. Trade in Private Services" report include:

  • Growth in exports of services has outpaced the rise in imports. The U.S. trade surplus in services rose to $168.0 billion last year, and has grown quickly since 2003, rising $101.2 billion.
  • Financial and business services contribute the most to the U.S. surplus.
  • From 2003 to 2010, the surplus in travel/passenger fares increased $29.8 billion.
  • The biggest U.S. surpluses in services (by country) are with Canada, Japan, Ireland, Brazil, the U.K., China and Mexico.
  • The U.S. services surplus with China has accelerated rapidly--from $2.4 billion in 2007 to $10.4 billion in 2010-due to sharp gains in exports and relatively flat imports;gains were seen across all services categories.
  • The largest U.S. services deficit is with Bermuda (a major source of U.S. reinsurance imports) while the second-largest is with India primarily due to computer services purchases.
  • Insurance represents the biggest U.S. deficit by service type. In 2009, American insurers bought $41.2 billion more in reinsurance than they sold.
In a related blog posting, the Dept. of Commerce's Chief Economist Mark Doms opined that "greater emphasis should be placed on our trade in services" due to a number of reasons. For example, he noted that services make up a large part of our economy; "80 percent or so depending on how you define it." In 2010 alone, he noted, the trade surplus in services "topped $526.6 billion."

From 2002-2008, America's private services exports grew at an annual average rate of 11.1 percent, said Doms. His prediction? "Exports of services are likely to show continued growth, taking advantage of the skill of the U.S. workforce and supporting living-wage U.S. jobs."


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