New Trade Data Indicate US Merchandise Exports to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region Are Highest Ever — $65.91 Billion — Despite Challenges of the Arab Spring UAE and Saudi Arabia Lead the Way, While Egypt Retains Third Place
According to new data analyzed by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), 2012 was an excellent year for US exports to the Arab world. Based on just-released 2012 data and revised 2011 figures provided by the US Census Bureau, US goods exports to the 22 nations of the Arab world increased from $56.18 billion in 2011 to $65.91 billion in 2012, an increase of 17.3 percent and the highest single-year sales volume ever.
By comparison, total US merchandise exports to the world increased by only 4.5 percent, from $1.48 trillion in 2011 to $1.55 trillion, in 2012.
“Despite the challenges of the Arab Spring, US exports are going from strength to strength,” noted David Hamod, President & CEO of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce. “Economic drivers in the Middle East and North Africa region — energy, infrastructure development (including railways), defense sales, consumer demand, and a growing commitment to knowledge transfer — are leading to unprecedented sales for US companies.”
The findings are consistent with the Chamber’s research that shows US exports of goods and services to the Arab world growing to $167 billion by 2015.
The largest category of goods exported was Transportation Equipment, constituting $26.04 billion (39.5 percent) of total US goods shipped to the Arab world. Other “Top Five” export sectors included Non-Electrical Machinery ($8.53 billion, 12.94 percent), Computer & Electronic Products ($5.47 billion, 8.29 percent), Chemicals ($3.89 billion, 5.91 percent), and Food & Kindred Products ($3.33 billion, 5.06 percent).
As in previous years, 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 US merchandise exports to the Arab world (61.74 percent). Egypt retained its position as the third largest Arab market for US goods, despite a drop in sales of nearly 12 percent, probably attributable to political unrest in that nation. Qatar and Kuwait filled out the top five importing nations. The GCC continues to drive US exports to the region, accounting for 75.7 percent of total sales of goods to the 22 countries of the Arab world.
In 2012, the United Arab Emirates was the top US export partner in the Arab world, importing $22.57 billion in goods from the United States, a 41.9 percent increase over 2011. The top three import sectors were Transportation Equipment ($10.51 billion), Computer & Electronic Products ($2.58 billion), and Non-Electrical Machinery ($1.86 billion).
Saudi Arabia was the second largest market for US goods, importing $18.12 billion in 2012, a 31 percent increase since 2011 data were made available. Top import sectors included Transportation Equipment ($7.69 billion), Non-Electrical Machinery ($3.29 billion), and Chemicals ($1.21 billion).
Exports to Egypt, the third largest Arab import market for US goods, declined from $6.22 billion in 2011 to $5.49 billion in 2012. This represents an 11.8 percent decrease, presumably attributable to unrest in that nation. Top imports included Agricultural Products ($1.12 billion), Transportation Equipment ($743 million), and Non-Electrical Machinery ($732 million).
Qatar moved up to become the fourth largest Arab market for US goods, with imports totaling over $3.58 billion in 2012, a 27.8 percent increase over 2011. The top three sectors were Transportation Equipment ($2.35 billion), Non-Electrical Machinery ($342 million), and Computer & Electronic Products ($168 million). Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup in the year 2022, and a number of infrastructure megaprojects are now underway.
Kuwait moved up one position to round out the “Top Five Arab Markets” for 2012, despite a 1.6 percent decrease in goods imports from the USA. With total imports from the US reaching $2.68 billion in 2012, Kuwait’s top three import sectors included Transportation Equipment ($1.24 billion), Non-Electrical Machinery ($274 million), and Computer & Electronic Products ($185 million).
Other “Top Ten Export Partners” included Morocco ($2.26 billion, down 20 percent from 2011), Iraq ($2.04 billion, down 15.4 percent from 2011), Oman ($1.75 billion, up 21.8 percent from 2011), Jordan ($1.71 billion, up 17.7 percent from 2011), and Algeria ($1.36 billion, down 14.6 percent from 2011).
In 2012, the “Top Ten” US states exporting to the Arab world included Texas ($10.56 billion, up 4 percent), Washington ($8.03 billion, up 48.3 percent), California ($5.26 billion, up 32.6 percent), Louisiana ($3.51 billion, down 22.4 percent), New York ($3.43 billion, up 6.5 percent), Michigan ($3.43 billion, up 51.4 percent), Florida ($2.96 billion, up 30.4 percent), Georgia ($2.4 billion, down 1.1 percent), Maryland ($2.07 billion, up 47.66 percent), and New Jersey ($2.01 billion, down 4.2 percent).