A look at the top 15 markets for U.S. exports of printers, copies, toner and parts shows that six are in South America.
It should be no surprise, then, that South Florida, the “shopping cart” for Latin America, is the nation’s leading Customs district for these outbound shipments this year. In fact, South Florida has ranked No. 1 for the last eight years, according to WorldCity analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.
So far this year, South Florida is accounting for more than 80 percent of all U.S. printer exports to Latin America and the Caribbean, a record market share and a slightly greater percentage than a year ago.
Digging a little deeper, among the nation’s roughly 485 airports, seaports and border crossings — these comprise the roughly four dozen Customs districts — three of the top eight are in South Florida: No. 2-ranked Port Everglades, No. 6-ranked Miami International Airport and No. 8-ranked PortMiami. (The bridge and rail crossings in Laredo, Texas, rank No. 1.)
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The downside to this dominance is that when things aren’t going well in Brazil and several other Latin American nations, as is the case now, South Florida’s export suffer more than most.
National picture: While overall U.S. printer exports are down 7.12 percent through the first nine months of the year, those to Brazil are off a steep 23.31 percent. The $46.97 million decline to Brazil, which is being roiled by a severe economic and political crisis, is second only to the $77.04 million drop in shipments sent to Mexico, though the percentage is more than twice as great.
U.S. exports to Chile are off 8.57 percent. Colombia and Argentina are faring better, down only 5.5 percent and 5.19 percent, respectively. U.S. exports to Ecuador are down 38.58 percent. Venezuela, which is no longer among the nation’s top 15 export markets — having fallen from No. 7 to No. 26 in just three years — is off 34.49 percent from last year.
Those declines in Latin America translate to an 11.82 percent decline for South Florida’s airports and seaports in 2015, a rate almost 50 percent greater than that of the nation as a whole. Exports from Port Everglades are off a rather modest 6.42 percent while those from MIA are down 16.55 percent and from PortMiami 15.97 percent.
Against this backdrop, there are another two issues affecting trade in this area. First, with the possible exception of toner, everything in this category continues to get less and less expensive. Nevertheless, and second, the market for printers and copiers generally will continue to be challenged — both on the import and export side — as the world’s businesses and consumers print and copy less, little more than a generation after the desktop printer became a common business and household item. Millennials will print and copy less than baby boomers.
U.S. rank: Five years ago, printers were the nation’s No. 34-ranked export. Today, printers rank No. 44. In that time period, overall U.S. exports have increased 21.78 percent in value. Exports of printers, copies and parts have decreased 7.30 percent in that same time frame. The United States now exports more almonds and similar nuts than printers.
South Florida trade: In that same five-year time frame, South Florida’s exports have fallen slightly faster, down 8.51 percent. But all of that decline has occurred just in the last 12 months, as Brazil and Venezuela’s economies have tanked.
The $859.33 million in South Florida printer exports this year is the second-lowest nine-month total since 2008, greater than only the 2009 figure, when the brunt of the global financial crisis was felt most acutely. Two years, 2011 and 2012, printer exports from South Florida had already topped $1 billion by September.
Since 2012, exports have fallen more than 22 percent in South Florida, to the current $859.33 million. Of that total, $400.65 million left from Port Everglades, which is slightly less than 47 percent of the total. MIA, which ranked fourth in the nation a year ago, has seen $288.42 million depart from its runways, accounting for another third of the total. PortMiami’s $159.88 million total through September accounted for almost all the rest, about 18.50 percent.
Export markets: Until this year, Brazil was the No. 1 market for South Florida’s printer exports. No more. It has slipped behind new No. 1 Colombia and Chile, which remains No. 2.
Brazil is one of three nations whose shipments of printers is down more than $30 million this year. In addition to its $38.67 million decline, exports to Ecuador are off $36.41 million and those to Peru are off $30.01 million.
Nationally, Brazil ranks No. 6 while Chile ranks No. 7 and Colombia No. 8, accounting for just under 10 percent of all U.S. exports. Add in Peru, Argentina and Ecuador — all three also in the top 15 among the nation’s top markets for printers — and the total is 14.49 percent.
Atop the markets for U.S. exports are NAFTA partners Canada, with a 27.50 percent market share, and Mexico, at 17.16 percent. China, the Netherlands and Germany also all rank ahead of No. 6 Brazil.
Importance to South Florida: Despite the decline from recent highs and despite changes in the use of printers that is anticipated, this category is an important part of the South Florida trade picture, one of the nine exports that topped $1 billion in value on an annualized basis in 2014. It will almost certainly top $1 billion again in 2015, when annual figures are released.
This is the seventh in a series of columns about South Florida’s top 10 exports. Coming next: Computer chips are South Florida’s eighth most valuable export. Reach Ken Roberts, president of World City, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @tradenumbers.
Colombia is new No. 1 market for South Florida exports
Change in rank
Sept. 2015 YTD
Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data