Business Monday

Gateway City/Trends: Medical-device imports on long-term growth path

Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts

It’s a good year for South Florida imports of medical instruments, up 19.32 percent in a year when overall imports are down 4.26 percent. With the increase, they have advanced one from last year to rank as the 10th most valuable import into the Customs district, according to the most current data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

At the current pace, medical-instrument imports — which include everything from expensive, complex and large imaging machinery to simple, small and relatively inexpensive syringes and needles — will top $1 billion for the first time in 2015. If that occurs, it will mark the second consecutive year (and the only two years) that all 10 of South Florida’s top 10 imports are valued in excess of $1 billion. Through the first seven months, the total was $632.67 million.

Dropping from the top 10 at this point in the year are fresh-cut flowers, which have fallen from No. 10 to No. 12 through the first seven months of 2015. They are also trailing an even faster-growing category, No. 11 yachts and other boats with outboard motors, which are growing at more than 100 percent this year.

This is the last in a series of columns focused on South Florida’s top 10 imports, with previous columns looking at the diverse list that ranges from gold at No. 1 to sweaters at No. 9. Aircraft, cellphones, fish fillets, refined petroleum products and T-shirts have also been profiled in previous weeks.

All told, South Florida’s top 10 imports account for 43.19 percent of the value of all 1,040 categories of imports this year into the four-county Customs district, which runs from Palm Beach County in the north to Key West in the south. It is dominated, of course, by Port Everglades, PortMiami and Miami International Airport.

So far this year, 578 categories have topped $1 million in value, 232 have topped $10 million, 49 have topped $100 million, 12 have topped $500 million, and the top five have already topped $1 billion.

U.S. rank: On a national level, imports of medical instruments rank No. 15, up one position and up 7.07 percent from last year. A decade ago, through the first seven months of 2005, medical instruments were the No. 21-ranked import into the United States, with a value of $6.86 billion.

The 2015 total is $11.70 billion, an increase of 70.56 percent. That compares favorably with the increase for all imports in that time of 40.03 percent.

South Florida trade: South Florida imports of medical devices are not only growing more rapidly than the total for all imports when compared with 2014; they are also growing more rapidly over a two-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year period. That’s unusual. It is the only top 10 import to have grown more rapidly than overall imports each of those time periods, with the exception of a special category of returned exports.

Over the two-year period, medical-device imports are up 17.01 percent, while overall imports are down 7.88 percent. Over the five-year period, it’s 16.15 percent and a decline of 0.03 percent. At 10 years, it’s an increase of 91.23 percent compared with an increase for all imports of 59.46 percent.

PortMiami is the nation’s seventh-most important gateway for these imports, Port Everglades is No. 13 and Miami International Airport is No. 18.

Where it originates: More than 85 percent of all imports entering South Florida arrive from just two countries, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. The two have accounted for more than 80 percent of the total into South Florida for the last seven years.

The Dominican Republic has been the No. 1 source of medical-device imports since supplanting Costa Rica two years ago. That was also the first year the Caribbean nation accounted for more than 40 percent of the total. In 2015, it is accounting for 43.68 percent of the total compared with 41.63 percent for Costa Rica. Costa Rica, meanwhile, has accounted for more than 40 percent for more than a decade, with the exception of 2013 and 2014. In 2008 and 2009, a majority of the imports in this category came from Costa Rica.

Imports from the Dominican Republic are dominated by Port Everglades, while imports from Costa Rica are led by PortMiami and, to a lesser extent, MIA.

Importance to South Florida: For the first time in more than a decade, imports of medical devices — most are classified in a miscellaneous subcategory, making them hard to identify specifically — are accounting for more than 2 percent of all imports into South Florida. That’s a not-insignificant total, considering the No. 1 import, gold, only accounts for 9.27 percent of the total. The last time these imports were topping 2 percent through the first seven months was in 2004, the last time the category cracked the top 10; they ranked No. 9 at that point.

Nationally, imports of medical devices are accounting for 0.90 percent of all imports this year. They have never topped 1 percent in this time period.

South Florida competition: South Florida is the nation’s No. 8-ranked Customs district for imports of medical devices this year. The 19.07 percent increase is more than double the national average of 7.07 percent.

As is the case in comparing South Florida medical-device imports with overall South Florida imports, South Florida imports of medical devices have grown more rapidly than overall U.S. imports of medical devices for the one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year periods. In this distinction, South Florida is joined by the No. 1 Customs district, New York City, No. 3-ranked New Orleans and No. 5-ranked Chicago.

The leading sources for imports into those Customs districts are, for New York City, Japan, Ireland and Germany; Germany and Switzerland for New Orleans; and Germany and China for Chicago.

Reach Ken Roberts, president of World City, at kroberts@worldcityweb.com. Twitter: @tradenumbers.

South Florida ranks No. 8 in nation for medical-device imports

Total U.S. trade

July 2015

YTD

1-year

change

1-year

change

10-year

change

10-year

change

Change

in rank

July 2015

YTD

All districts

$ 11,703,528,288

$773,227,946

7.07%

$4,841,597,193

70.56%

1

1

New York City

$ 1,444,160,906

$272,540,521

23.26%

$880,714,422

156.31%

-1

2

San Diego

$ 1,352,096,659

$145,461,521

12.06%

$787,106,151

139.31%

0

3

New Orleans

$ 1,211,123,462

$169,574,033

16.28%

$706,787,073

140.14%

0

4

El Paso, Texas

$ 1,067,804,154

$57,911,731

5.73%

$644,093,440

152.01%

0

5

Chicago

$ 978,388,130

$110,920,100

12.79%

$416,146,374

74.02%

0

6

Boston

$ 722,902,851

-$42,880,183

-5.60%

-$389,460,290

-35.01%

0

7

Cleveland

$ 691,689,983

$15,695,996

2.32%

$449,578,838

185.69%

1

8

Miami

$ 632,672,349

$102,458,316

19.32%

$301,831,083

91.23%

-1

9

Los Angeles

$ 558,907,032

-$45,955,539

-7.60%

$92,779,982

19.90%

0

10

Laredo, Texas

$ 480,240,199

$12,212,161

2.61%

$260,650,582

118.70%

0

11

San Francisco

$ 342,378,684

-$25,093,054

-6.83%

-$18,407,444

-5.10%

0

12

Atlanta/Savannah

$ 309,692,453

-$11,896,708

-3.70%

$49,199,149

18.89%

3

13

Great Falls, Mont.

$ 229,415,703

$56,506,981

32.68%

$159,738,203

229.25%

-1

14

Nogales/Phoenix

$ 212,831,541

$599,183

0.28%

$117,928,093

124.26%

-1

15

San Juan, P.R.

$ 176,601,688

-$17,638,073

-9.08%

$36,659,306

26.20%

Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data

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