November Trade and Typhoon Haiyan

By: Shannon O’Brien

In November, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $34.3 billion as exports increased and imports decreased. Exports grew $1.7 billion to a record high $194.9 billion during November in part due to an increase in industrial supplies and materials ($0.7 billion). Imports decreased $3.4 billion to $229.1 billion led by a $4.3 billion decrease in industrial supplies and materials. The November goods and services deficit was the lowest since October 2009.

Philippines Trade

In early November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan hit Southeast Asia and devastated the Philippines. In order to help our data users assess the impact of Haiyan on trade with the Philippines, November’s graph of the month shows monthly trade data through November 2013 with the Philippines.  As you can see from October to November, exports increased $0.2 billion while imports declined $0.4 billion. The highest increases in exports included civilian aircraft ($147.9 million), animal feeds ($31.1 million), soybeans ($29.7 million), wheat ($20.2 million), and coal and fuels ($18.7 million).

You can visit here for more information on shipping charity goods to the Philippines. Would you like to see any special trade reports on Typhoon Haiyan? Please leave a comment and let us know.

You can find more import and export data online by visiting USATradeOnline. If you are a first time user, you are eligible for a one-week (7-day) free trail.

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Commodity Spotlight: U.S. Military Exports

By: Chuck Avery

One interesting aspect of U.S. trade is the export of military goods.* This trade increased over the last decade from $8.3 billion in 2002 to a peak value of $18.8 billion in 2012. Note that this does not include shipments to the U.S. military overseas. Most U.S. exports of military goods went to Asia, primarily Japan and South Korea.


Source: USA Trade Online

Last year, 70% of U.S. exports of military goods were related to military aircraft—fighter jets, helicopters, engines, launching gear, and above all, aircraft parts. In fact, at 35% of all U.S. military exports in 2012, the export value for military aircraft parts exceeded the export value for intact aircraft.

The large portion of spare parts in U.S. military exports is one surprise. Another is that if aircraft-related exports are excluded, the biggest U.S. military export is guided missiles.** Nearly $1.2 billion in guided missiles left the U.S. in 2012. This total was topped in the first three months of 2013, with $1.4 billion sent abroad, most of it exported to the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.


Source: USA Trade Online

Want to know more about U.S. exports of military goods? Check out USA Trade Online for more detailed information.

*Military goods are those classified under end-use code 50, for “military-type goods.” See the exports concordance for a complete list.

**As classified by ten-digit Schedule B commodity classification for 2012 exports. In this case the ten-digit Schedule B for guided missiles is 9306900020.

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United States Postal Service Exemption Codes

By: Thomas White

Do you have a holiday package you need to ship out of the country? Here’s what to do if you are using the United States Postal Service (USPS) website.

When you visit, it gives several options to choose from when supplying package information to the site for proper mailing (‘Enter Customs Information’). Let us clarify a couple of key elements:

  • Proof of Filing Citation (PFC): notification confirming that you filed to the Automated Export System (AES). This is also known as the Internal Transaction Number or ITN.
  • AES Exemption : If you are not required to file, this note indicates why you are exempt from filing.

Choosing the Appropriate Exemption

On, the two main options to choose from are: 30.36 and 30.37(a). Take a look at what they mean:

  • 30.36: Use for shipments destined to Canada that do not require a license, regardless of value.
  • 30.37(a): Use for shipments under $2,500 destined to countries other than Canada that do not require a license.

Full list of exemptions and/or other regulation questions

If you’re still unsure, give us a call at 800-549-0595, option 3 to speak with a specialist.

This is a repost from December 19, 2012.

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Trade Deficit Decreases in October

By Shannon O’Brien and John Sperry

In October, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $40.6 billion as exports increased more than imports. Exports increased to a record high $192.7 billion in October led by an increase in industrial supplies and materials ($1.5 billion). Imports grew to $233.3 billion in part due to an increase in industrial supplies and materials ($0.8 billion). This month saw a number of records, including exports of goods ($135.3 billion), exports of petroleum ($12.5 billion), exports to Canada ($26.8 billion), and exports to China ($13.1 billion). In addition to these records, October had its highest level of imports with China ($41.9 billion) partially due to video game related imports as discussed below.

Video Game Consoles Imports Increase
Video Game Imports

Through 2013 year-to-date, we have imported a total of $3.7 billion of video game consoles. In October alone we imported video game consoles and machines totaling $1,099.9 million. China was the leading foreign source of video game consoles in October making up $1,084.5 million of the world total imports to the United States.

During the 2013 holiday season, the gaming community has felt the rise of video game demand. Maybe your quest for shopping began when new video game consoles released in North America last month or maybe you will be surprised when you are unwrapping presents in a few weeks.


You can obtain this data and more by going to USA Trade Online.



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Doing Business in China 101

By: Iris Kapo, International Trade Specialist, US Commercial Service

China streetSpecialists from the Commercial Service can help you overcome challenges in the market and reach specific goals. Below are some tidbits of knowledge that stemmed from this year’s American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) tradeshow in Houston, Texas. Three Commercial Specialists from Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou participated in the USDOC’s Showtime Program. They met one-on-one with U.S exhibitors at the show and discussed each company’s unique challenges and goals in these diverse regions of China.

Below are some things to keep in mind when trading with China.

  • Where Are We. China is the world’s fourth largest country after Russia, Canada, and the U.S., so it’s unlikely that one distributor or business partner will be able to successfully serve the entire country. The U.S. Commercial Service has five offices in China and one helps you identify a local partner. Our offices can identify ideal distributors or business partners through our Gold Key Matchmaking Service, for instance, and offer several other services.
  • The Price is Right. Companies concerned with adequately pricing their product for the China market can rely on local partners to guide them through an appropriate pricing structure that will be successful for both parties. The SBA pricing model worksheet is also a good resource to help you get started.
  • Building Relationships. In Chinese culture, building a face-to-face relationship is necessary before any business or decision making is even conducted so frequent visits are a must to ensure success. It’s important to identify a distributor or to attend key trade shows within their industry, such as the China International Medical Equipment Fair CMEF. In many cases, doing business in China will require more than a one-time visit to identify your distributor. To identify trade shows/events within your industry, in specific countries, please visit our Trade Events Database.
  • Medical Devices. All imported medical devices must be registered with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) before being sold in their market. In addition to medical devices, the CFDA will also absorb food safety-related regulatory functions previously handled by other ministries. For medical devices, the CFDA has a comprehensive system for product registration and inspection, which includes product type testing and factory audits. Medical devices are divided into three classes (Class I, II, III) depending on levels of risk, similar to but stricter than that of the USFDA. Clinical trials are required for registration of Class III and some Class II medical devices. The product registration process normally takes from one to three years and registration must be renewed every four years.
  • Bring a Friend. If you’re making a trip to China, our overseas colleagues are happy to meet with you while you are there. You have to contact your local U.S Export Assistance Center (USEAC) to let them know to reach out to the specific Foreign Commercial Service office in China on your behalf.

Those were some of the most important pieces of guidance provided to the most frequent concerns voiced by U.S exhibitors. If you’re ever attending a trade show, locally or internationally, we urge you to contact your local USEAC to find out if we are offering our free services, such as Showtime. These programs are a great supplement to your attendance and will add value to your participation at the show.

The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries assist U.S. companies competing in the global marketplace. For more information on USCS visit

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How Much Of Our Exports Come From Manufacturing?

Made in the U.S.A.

With almost 300,000 establishments and 11 million employees, manufacturing plays a major role in the nation’s economy. So much so that about 6 in 10 U.S. export dollars come from manufacturers. Click on the Infographic below to find out more things about the manufacturing industry you probably didn’t know.

Manufacturing Info Graph

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Trade Deficit Grows in September

By: Shannon O’Brien

In September, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $41.8 as exports decreased and imports increased. Exports decreased to $188.9 billion in September led by a $1.3 billion decrease in industrial supplies and materials. Imports grew $2.7 billion to $230.7 billion in part due to record high increases in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($27.1 billion). Notably September also recorded the highest on record deficit with China ($30.5 billion) partially due to holiday related imports as discussed below.

Holiday Related Imports 

As we enter into the most wonderful time of the year, demand for seasonal decorations can be seen with holiday commodity trade around the world.


This month alone we have imported artificial Christmas trees of $53.1 million and lighting sets of $187.4 million. China was the leading foreign source of Christmas trees in September making up $52.6 million of the $53.1 million world total imports to the United States.


Through 2013 year-to-date, we have imported a total of $95.8 million of Christmas trees and $349.6 million of Christmas lighting sets. Both Christmas trees and lighting sets are the lowest since the 2010 holiday season when imports of Christmas trees were $73.3 million and lighting sets were $256.8 million.

While there is still time to deck the halls, from all of us here in Foreign Trade, Happy Holidays to all!

You can obtain this data and more by going to USA Trade Online.

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ALERT! Delay of the effective date for changes to the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR)

By: Daniel Cariello

Fresh off the press today, the FTR final rule, published on March 14, 2013, will now be effective April 5, 2014. Previously it was scheduled to take effect on January 8, 2014. Additionally, the Office of Management and Budget has approved the collection of two new data elements (license value and ultimate consignee type) in the Automated Export System (AES) under control number 0607-0152.

Are you wondering why the effective date was extended?

paper writeChanges to the FTR are currently being programed into the Automated Commercial Environment, which is the new platform for the AES. However, the functionality to support the revisions addressed in the final rule published March 14, 2013, will not be deployed until April 5, 2014. As a result, the Census Bureau and Customs and Border Protection have agreed to delay the effective date of the final rule.

After April 5, 2014, exporters will be required to follow the new reporting requirements addressed in the March 14,2013, publication of the Federal Register FTR final rule. Some of the new requirements include the reporting of shipments for all used self-propelled vehicles (regardless of value or destination) as well as temporary exports valued over $2,500 per Schedule B. In addition to adopting new export reporting requirements and modifying the postdeparture program, we also made changes to the FTR for clarification on terms and responsibilities.

For more information regarding the key changes that will be effective April 5, 2014, check out our blog The New Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) Export Requirements.

If you have questions regarding these new changes to the FTR final rule, please contact the Regulations, Outreach and Education Branch at 1-800-549-0595, option 3 or via e-mail at

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Watch a Free Webinar Series!

Recognize this Picture?


No, it’s not a game but we do hope that you recognize the image from our Go Global Webinar Series.

Yesterday we held our last webinar of the series. Throughout the 11 presentations we learned how government resources help you become a successful exporter. The last Webinar, Avoiding and Resolving Problems, is now available with all of the previous webinars in our Outreach, Education and Training page.

If you’re interested in becoming an exporter or just simply need a refresher, this webinar series is perfect for you!

Also located on our Outreach, Education and Training page are the upcoming dates for our Regulation Town Halls. Mark your calendards for these free informative events that focus on:

  • Changes in reporting requirements
  • New fields added to the Automated Export System
  • Changes in definitions
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Record Retention

business woman filing paperBy: Brenda Jeffries

We have received several inquiries from the trade community regarding the requirements for retaining export information. Every party involved in an export transaction (owners and operators of the export carriers, USPPIs, FPPIs and /or authorized agents) should retain all export documents for five years from the date of export to comply with the Foreign Trade Regulations.

The record retention policies for the Census Bureau (15 CFR 30.10), Bureau of Industry and Security (15 CFR 762.6(a)), and the State Department (22 CFR 122.5) require keeping documentation for five years. The Census Bureau’s record retention requirements do not relieve filers from adhering to other government agency’s record retention policies.

All documents, correspondences and other relevant information to the export transactions should be maintained. These should include but are not limited to items, such as:

  1. Electronic Export Information (EEI)
  2. Shipping documents
  3. Invoices
  4. Orders
  5. Packing list
  6. Other documents relevant to the specific transaction

For more information regarding retention of export information, go to the Foreign Trade Regulations Section 30.10, or call the Foreign Trade Division at 1-800-549-0595, option 3.

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