At the moment, there is only one European nation among South Florida’s top 10 trade partners and it is No. 10 France.
While there is relative stability in the South American and Central America nations among South Florida’s top trade partners — all profiled sequentially in previous weeks as part of this 10-part series — that is less true of the European nations.
Prior to France sneaking into the top 10 — it is up three positions from last year at this time, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, and a No. 15 ranking five years ago — Switzerland and the United Kingdom were the lone Europeans to have graced the top 10 list.
Switzerland made it as high as No. 3 in 2010, as gold trade between Miami International Airport and Switzerland on the export side, and MIA, Mexico, Colombia and a few other nations on the import side swelled during the global economic crisis. It backed off to No. 23 at this time last year — a sudden reversal, to be sure — but is back to No. 12 this year, interestingly enough.
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The United Kingdom ranked No. 10 in 2004 but has since tumbled back to No. 20.
Italy currently ranks No. 15 and previously ranked there in 2008, but that’s as high as it has ventured. Germany is currently No. 17 — also a peak. Spain has cracked the top 20 but remains outside it this year at No. 29. The Netherlands has also made it into the top 20 but today finds itself ranked No. 32.
U.S. rank: France sits somewhat comfortably as the United States’ eighth most important trade partner, not much of a threat to the United Kingdom, which ranks No. 7, and only mildly threatened by India, which ranks No. 9. France’s trade totaled $31.78 billion through May, the most recent data available, while the United Kingdom stood at $46.99 billion and India at $27.97 billion.
France ranked No. 8 at this time in 2010 and in 2005.
Trade thus far this year is off a negligible 3.02 percent from the 2014 record pace, while overall U.S. trade with the world is off 4.4 percent.
South Florida trade: Through the first five months of the year, South Florida trade with France is up 20.11 percent. When compared to other customs districts around the country, that’s a faster growth rate than any other among the top 20. In dollar terms, only France’s top two U.S. gateways — New York City and Cleveland — are growing faster. They have growth of $285.15 million and $380.51 million, respectively, compared to $213.67 million for South Florida.
When viewed against South Florida’s top trade partners, it’s impressive but not quite as much so. The 20.11 percent growth stands in stark contrast to South Florida’s overall trade, which is down 4.67 percent through the first five months of the year. Among the top 10 trade partners, the 20.11 percent growth rate is tops but when you expand the list to the top 20, it ranks behind three European nations — No. 11 Switzerland, at 95. 15 percent, Italy at 38.62 percent and Germany at 30.79 percent.
Importance to South Florida: France is South Florida’s 10th most important trade partner while South Florida is the eighth most important gateway for U.S. trade. What does that mean? In a sense, South Florida is slightly more important to France (No. 8) than France is to South Florida (No. 10). Looking at it in terms of market share, 2.81 percent of all South Florida trade with the world is with France this year — a record percentage. Flipping it, South Florida is accounting for 4.2 percent of all U.S. trade with France this year, also a record and the first climb over 4 percent. Once again, South Florida is slightly more important to France than France is to South Florida.
South Florida competition: While South Florida has advanced to a No. 8 ranking with France this year, it is only a whisker ahead of the two it passed, Los Angeles and Charleston, with a lot of year left. Both South Florida and Los Angeles are at $1.28 billion — separated by $158,564 — while Charleston is at $1.27 billion. That difference is only $6.72 million.
New York City has captured more than 20 percent of all France trade for more than a decade. The only other customs districts in double digits in that time are Cleveland this year (10.70 percent), New Orleans last year (10.94 percent) and Chicago in 2004 (10.92 percent).
South Florida exports to France: For the first time in a decade, South Florida exports to France are in record territory. The 2005 total of $148.58 million is being eclipsed by the $158.88 million total this year, led by $64.31 billion in aircraft, engines and parts, a natural trade flow between Miami and France, both aviation hubs. No other export is above $10 billion though paintings, drawings and other artwork, the second most valuable export, totaled $9.53 million through May.
South Florida imports from France: For the first time, South Florida imports from France have topped $1 billion through the first five months of the year. The big increase is in aircraft, the value of which has increased from $48.50 million just four years ago to $327.80 million this year. The No. 2 import is perfumes, the value of which is also in record territory, at $230.01 million. The two combined are accounting for 49.87 percent of all French imports into South Florida this year.
Surplus/deficit: Only New York City has a larger trade deficit with France this year, unusual for South Florida, which runs a trade surplus with the world as a whole. In fact, South Florida has a larger deficit with only one other country, China. In terms of balance of trade, 12 cents of every dollar in trade with France is a South Florida export, compared to 56 cents with all trade partners. France’s trade with the United States is far more balanced. For every dollar of French trade, 41 cents is a U.S. export.
Reach Ken Roberts, president of World City, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
France-South Florida trade is taking off
New York City
Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data