Good news and bad news. Sort of.
The value of medical-instrument exports, one of the top U.S. exports this year, is growing at less than half the rate of overall U.S. exports.
That’s the bad news.
The category, which includes everything from needles and sutures to MRI and ultrasound machinery, are still increasing at a pace sufficient to lead to a record year, when annual totals are released in early February.
Now, the good news: Through September, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, exports in the category were up 8.14% to $26.46 billion. U.S. exports increased 21.04% and stand a chance of topping $2 trillion for the first time in 2022.
This post, focused on medical instruments, which ranked 10th when this series on U.S. exports began, is the 12th and final post in a series of columns about the nation’s exports. It currently ranks 12th, trailing gold, which entered the top 10 earlier this year and low-value shipments, which I chose to step over since the data on the category. largely unspecified e-commerce and courier shipments, is insufficiently detailed.
This series follows similar series I did for the countries that were, at the time, the nation’s top 10 trade partners and one for the airports, seaports and border crossings that were, at the time, the nation’s top 10 “ports.”
The first article in this series focused on an overview of the top 10 exports. The second looked at the top 10 countries that are markets for U.S. exports and how they differ from our overall trade partners, which would include imports.
The third was about refined petroleum, the top export; followed by one on oil, which ranks second; natural gas, which includes LNG and ranks third; the primary commercial jet category, which ranks fourth; passenger vehicles, at No. 5; computer chips, which actually rank seventh, though at the time this series started, ranked sixth; vaccines, plasma and other blood fractions, which ranked seventh when the series started; motor vehicle parts, the No. 8-ranked U.S. export; and medicines, largely in pill form, which ranked No. 9 when the series began but had slipped to No. 10 by the release of the September data.
In the same way that the low-value shipments category is relatively opaque, so too is the medical instrument category, though far less so. Nonetheless, $11.21 billion of the $26.46 billion total, is categorized as “not elsewhere specified or indicated” — or more than 42 percent.
The top 10 markets are, not surprisingly, advanced economies in North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania (Australia). The top five have already topped $2 billion this year, the top seven having topped $1 billion.
Increases in exports to China, Canada and Japan are all in the single digits while those to the Netherlands, a transshipment hub for Europe, and Mexico have increased 28.48% and 12.81%, respectively.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and what is quite possibly New Orleans International Airport are the three dominant gateways for these exports. (The New Orleans port data comingles air and ocean cargo in the Census Bureau data.) Those three account slightly less than 30% of the total this year.
The top seven all topped $ billion through September.