Port Everglades registered a record year for trade in 2014, even though the overall South Florida Customs district saw its trade fall, as I discussed in this column last week. In the next two weeks, I will take a closer look at PortMiami and Miami International Airport, the other two large drivers of South Florida trade.
Port Everglades’ trade with the world totaled $27.15 billion in 2014, according to WorldCity’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s a 6.75 percent increase over the 2013 total. Exports increased 1.69 percent to $13.63 billion but fell short of the $14.04 total in 2012. Imports increased 12.39 percent to a record $13.52 billion.
Port Everglades registered a $115.46 million trade surplus, its seventh consecutive one but also its smallest one. The largest surplus was in 2012, at $3.65 billion. Almost a decade ago, in 2005, Port Everglades registered a $3.58 billion trade deficit.
For the ninth consecutive year, Venezuela was Port Everglades’ top trade partner, with Honduras, the last country to rank ahead of Venezuela, at No. 2. The top eight nations trading with Port Everglades accounted for more than $1 billion in trade each. The top 37 accounted for more than $100 million each.
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In dollar terms, the fastest-growing trade partner with Port Everglades in 2014 was the Dominican Republic. Its trade grew $477.64 million. Imports from the island accounted for $306.38 million of that total, up 46.04 percent. Because of that rapid overall growth, the island nation moved up two positions to rank as the port’s third most important trade partner.
Port Everglades’ trade with the Dominican Republic has doubled in value since 2010.
Venezuela’s trade fell the most in dollar terms, down $310.45 million, with Brazilian trade a close second, down $268.78 million. Brazil, which was the No. 2-ranked trade partner with the port as recently as 2010 and No. 3 in 2013, slipped three positions to rank No. 6 in 2014.
For Venezuela, imports fell $215.24 million, or more than twice as much as exports, which declined $95.21 million. Venezuela is a large gasoline importer into Port Everglades. For Brazil, imports into the port decreased $247.45 million, or 42.86 percent, at a time when overall imports into Port Everglades increased $1.49 billion. Brazil’s decrease was largely due to a significant drop in ethyl alcohol imports, or ethanol, into the port, part of the larger story of falling oil prices.
Among Port Everglades’ top 15 trade partners, none moved up more positions — three — or at a faster rate — 47.11 percent — than South Korea. The Asian nation ended up as Port Everglades’ No. 13-ranked trade partner.
More than $200 million of that increase was in the value of its top import — gasoline. In today’s global markets, gasoline does not necessarily only move from oil-rich nations to oil-consuming nations. South Korea ranked second to Venezuela in gasoline imports into the port followed by India. India’s trade with Port Everglades grew more rapidly than South Korea’s, up 67.21 percent, and it advanced more positions, up seven to No. 18.
Gasoline not only remained Port Everglades’ top import from the world in 2014, it nearly set a record, despite tumbling crude oil prices in the latter half of the year. The 2014 total of $3.43 billion was the highest total since 2008, when a record $3.85 billion in refined petroleum entered the port. Gasoline imported into Port Everglades supplies a great deal of the southern half of the state of Florida.
The value of the gasoline imported was more than three times as great as the No. 2 import, sweaters, which nevertheless set a record in 2014 and almost reached $1 billion in value. The $923.61 million total was an increase of 21.42 percent over the 2013 mark. In percentage and dollar terms, T-shirts increased more, up $178.99 million and 25.43 percent.
Honduras is a leading apparel center although it has been pummeled by manufacturing in China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and other Asian nations over the last decade. But, in 2014, no Port Everglades import grew more rapidly in dollar terms than T-shirts. Two other apparel items rank among Port Everglades’ top 10 imports: No. 8 men’s or boys’ suits, up one position in rank and 17.96 percent; and No. 10 pantyhose and socks, up three positions and 21.75 percent.
On the export side, the overall increase was $226.02 million, but among the top 15, it was a truly mixed bag: Eight increased in value while seven fell. The biggest increase in dollar and percentage terms among the top 15 was No. 3 cotton, which advanced two positions on 31.38 percent and $99.87 million growth. Cotton is, of course, important to the apparel industry — T-shirts, for example.
The biggest decline among the top 15 exports was in computer parts, which fell four positions to No. 11. The percentage decrease was 20.06 percent and the dollar drop was $43.79 million. Computer part exports have been declining nationally for a number of years.
The leading two exports are printers and computers. The value of printers fell slightly, down 0.16 percent, and the value of computers rose slightly, up 4.36 percent, but the long-term trend for both — both locally and nationally — is not positive as cellphones — which fly rather than sail, given their weight — are becoming more important devices and as fewer people print. Both printers and computer parts are down from totals in 2012 and 2011.
Motor vehicle exports — most bound for the Caribbean — also fell, down $33.06 million, or 8.39 percent. Ranking No. 3 in 2013, motor vehicles fell to the No. 5-ranked export in 2014.
Ken Roberts is the founder and president of WorldCity, a Coral Gables-based company that pays attention to the impact of globalization on local communities. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Top 15 trade partners at Port Everglades
Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data