Gateway City: For Hong Kong and Miami, a surge in trade

Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts

Trade patterns can be like shorelines. Sure, sometimes they are ravished by significant events, such as hurricanes, but more often the changes are barely perceptible, unless viewed over time.

Comparing South Florida’s top 20 trade partners so far this year to the top 20 a decade ago, we see that we have only one “hurricane” — Hong Kong — among the three nations that have entered the top 20 and the three that have been washed away.

Just one year ago, Hong Kong ranked No. 35 among South Florida’s top trade partners, according to a WorldCity analysis of the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, but it ranked No. 11 through June of this year.

Its trade with South Florida — and it’s mostly through Miami International Airport — has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in one year, at a time when overall South Florida trade is down almost 6 percent. More about Hong Kong in a moment.

The two other nations that have joined the top 20 that were not a part of it in 2004 are Bolivia (now No. 24, then No. 40) and Panama (from No 22 to No. 17). The three nations that have fallen off the top 20 list are the Bahamas (from No. 19 to No. 24), Japan (from No. 20 to No. 33) and Spain (from No. 12 to No. 34).

There is a similar scenario among South Florida’s top 10. The top 10 has three countries not there a decade ago: Chile (from No. 11 to No. 5), Peru (from No. 18 to No. 9) and Ecuador (from No. 16 to No. 10) — and three countries no longer there: Guatemala (from No. 8 to No. 13), El Salvador (from No. 9 to No. 15) and the United Kingdom (from No. 10 to No. 20).

Back to the hurricane.

Through June of last year, the Miami Customs district had never shipped gold to Hong Kong. In the first six months of 2014, Miami shipped $952.76 million of gold to the small island off the coast of China.

Because gold is expensive and relatively lightweight, it flies rather than sails. (For security reasons alone, it flies since that shortens the supply chain.) That means, it is leaving from MIA rather than the two major seaports in the Customs district, Port Miami and Port Everglades.

Because of this surge in gold, Miami has advanced from being the 13th district for trade with Hong Kong at this time last year to No. 3 this year, trailing only New York City and Los Angeles.

There is, of course, an irony to this surge in gold exports to Hong Kong. If you read my column in this space last week, you know that the value of all MIA’s gold exports is falling rapidly for reasons explained there. In fact, gold exports from MIA to the world are down 37.04 percent when compared to the first six months of 2013. Just not to Hong Kong. It is safe to say that the appetite for that gold might just lie across the body of water that separates it from China.

Because of this, Hong Kong is now the No. 1 destination for gold exiting South Florida. Gold exports to Switzerland have fallen in one year from $2.19 billion to $322.86 million.

Next week, a closer look at Miami’s top exports, which is led by civilian aircraft and parts, cellphones and related equipment, and computers. Oh, yes, and gold.

U.S. Trade with Hong Kong by Customs district

Change in rankJune 2014Total U.S. Trade June 2014 YTD 1-year change1-year change10-year change10-year change
All Districts $23,459,932,251 -$81,623,323 -0.35% $11,800,005,236 101.20%
01New York City $ 8,429,965,711 $62,617,1760.75%$5,941,132,797 238.71%
02Los Angeles $ 4,852,596,352 $584,220,80113.69%$1,907,252,86064.75%
103Miami $ 1,368,468,426 $1,039,607,971316.12%$1,230,598,755892.58%
04San Francisco $ 1,300,202,735 -$173,643,524-11.78%-$557,074,793-29.99%
15Anchorage $ 1,271,045,538 $331,809,46235.33%$780,034,618158.86%
-36Great Falls, Montana $ 900,928,525 -$1,564,747,648-63,46%$889,116,6627,527.32%
27New Orleans $ 813,312,868 $225,301,98038.32%$495,680,562156.05%
-38Seattle $ 750,001,230 -$246,694,202-24.75%$192,506,42534.53%
-19Atlanta/Savannah $ 740,713,000 $115,337,11918.44%$323,733,76277.64%
-310Cleveland $ 718,800,656-$185,090,802-20.48%$407,837,908131.15%
-111Chicago $ 584,295,792 $30,083,5095.43%$32,387,7725.87%
-112Low-value shipments $ 353,215,066 -$23,881,417-6.33%$167,429,44890.12%
-113Dallas-Fort Worth $ 322,338,598 -$41,847,836-11.49%$115,838,36656.10%
214Charleston $ 136,773,138 $13,228,25610.71%$20,186,95917.32%
215Norfolk $ 128,441,979 $6,578,0345.40%-$3,074,816-2.34%

SOURCE: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census data

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