Short-term, South Florida trade with Honduras is doing well. While South Florida trade with the world is down 3.72 percent thus far this year, its trade with Honduras is running at a record level, up 8.66 percent. That growth has allowed the relatively small, poor Central American nation to advance one to rank as South Florida’s sixth most important trade partner, trailing only Brazil, Colombia, China, Chile and the Dominican Republic.
South Florida trade with those countries was profiled in this column in previous weeks.
Long-term, the picture with Honduras is less positive. While South Florida trade with the world has increased 77.22 percent over the course of the last decade, its trade with Honduras has increased 42.91 percent. In that time period, South Florida trade with No. 2 Colombia, No. 3 China and No. 4 Chile has more than doubled. Among South Florida’s top 10 trade partners, only three have performed more poorly over the last decade: Venezuela and Costa Rica, which will be featured in upcoming columns, and the Dominican Republic.
The issue with Honduras, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic is relatively straightforward. Each has run head-on into the global economy and now finds itself trying to adjust. In the case of Honduras and the Dominican Republic, which for the last several decades have been somewhat dependent on apparel imports into the United States, that means trying to maintain some market share against the likes of China and Vietnam while, at the same time, diversifying.
U.S. rank: Honduras ranked as the nation’s No. 44-ranked trade partner through the first four months of the year, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data available. Although U.S. trade with Honduras is down 4.0 percent, the ranking is three positions higher than at the same time in 2014.
Honduras moved up from No. 47 largely due to big declines in U.S. trade with oil importers Kuwait, Iraq and Nigeria, all of which have tumbled in the rankings. They, too, are dealing with shifts in the global economy — though in this case it is a slacking U.S. appetite for foreign oil.
South Florida trade: South Florida trade with Honduras through the first four months of 2015 stood at $1.49 billion. While Honduran trade has not kept pace with South Florida’s trade with the world, it has been relatively steady. For 12 of the last 13 years, it has exceeded $1 billion but never $1.5 billion — a relatively narrow range for that length of time.
The balance of that trade, not surprisingly, has remained relatively constant also over the course of that time. It is also relatively balanced. Looking at the percentage of total trade that is a South Florida export, it has varied from a high of 54 percent to a low of 44 percent. In 2015, 46 cents of every dollar in trade is a South Florida export.
Importance to South Florida: Since South Florida’s trade with Honduras is not keeping pace with its trade with the world over the long term, its relative importance is waning, as well.
That last time Honduras accounted for more than 6 percent of all South Florida trade through the first four months of the year was in 2003. The last time it accounted for more than 5 percent was just two years later, in 2005. It first dipped below 4 percent in 2010, and did so three of the next four years — until this year.
For the first time since 2011, Honduras is accounting for more than 4 percent of all South Florida trade; 4.08 percent, to be exact.
South Florida competition: South Florida still dominates U.S. trade with Honduras, but the storyline is somewhat similar to the relative importance described above. South Florida last accounted for more than 50 percent of all U.S. trade with Honduras in 2004. It dropped below 40 percent in the first four months of 2012 but has rebounded since. This year, South Florida is accounting for 45.49 percent of all U.S.-Honduran trade. This year, Houston is the only other Customs district accounting for more than 10 percent of all U.S.-Honduran trade although the previous two years New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, did, as well.
South Florida exports to Honduras: South Florida exports to Honduras totaled $680.43 million through the first four months of 2015, the highest total since 2011, when the total was $755.95 million. The big decline from 2011 is the value of cotton exports, which have dropped from a record $223.93 million to $136.27 million. The 2015 total is, however, the second-highest total and a 16.50 percent increase from the same period of 2014. In fact, a number of the leading exports feed into the apparel business, including No. 2 synthetic yarn, No. 6 knot or crocheted fabric with elastic yarn, No. 7 miscellaneous knit fabrics, No. 9 woven synthetic-blend fabric, No. 10 synthetic filament yarn, No. 11 yarn with less than 85 percent cotton, No. 14 non-woven fabric and No. 15 auxiliary machinery used with textile machines.
South Florida imports from Honduras: While there are certainly apparel items among the top 15 imports into South Florida, the No. 1 inbound shipment is insulated wire and cable, the value of which is up 17.27 percent from 2014 and more than 100 percent from 2011. Other top, non-apparel imports include gold at No. 4; fish fillets at No. 7; cigars and cigarettes, at No. 9; melons at No. 11; motor vehicle parts at No. 12; and crustaceans at No. 14. But T-shirts rank No. 2; sweaters, No. 3; pantyhose and socks, No. 5; bras, No. 6; men’s shirts, No. 8; felt garments, No. 13; and swimsuits, track suits and skiwear, No. 15. Overall, imports from Honduras into South Florida have increased 9.88 percent when compared with 2014.
Surplus/Deficit: Through the first four months of 2015, the South Florida deficit with Honduras was $124.87 million, the second-highest total on record and the nation’s largest with the Central American nation.
Coming next: Peru is South Florida’s No. 7-ranked trade partner, and it’s on the rebound from a tough 2014.
Reach Ken Roberts, president of World City, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Honduras imports showing diversity
April 2015 YTD
Total, all imports
Insulated wire, cable
T-shirts, tank tops,
knit or crocheted
Sweaters, pullovers, vest,
knit or crocheted
Bras, girdles, garters
Fish fillets, chilled or frozen
Men’s or boys’ shirts,
not knitted or crocheted
Men's or boys’ underwear
Melons and papayas
Motor vehicle parts
Garments, of felt
Track suits, ski-suits & swimwear
Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data