2011 will be remembered as a year of many ups and downs in the world of trade. From Japan’s natural disasters
in March to heightened trade tensions with China (not to mention Iran), the U.S. has had to react to many changes. Overall, the year ended on a high note as both imports and exports for the U.S. posted increases from recent years. In terms of dollar value, imports increased 15.4% and exports increased 15.9%.
The graph below illustrates the increases as well as a trend of the trade balance for the last five years. The trade balance widened for the second consecutive year in 2011, reaching a level of over -$700 billion. As exports have become a main focus for the U.S., we may see this trend reverse in the coming years, depending upon demand for U.S. products.