Skip to navigationSkip to content

When it comes to exports, Obama loves what oil is doing

Reuters / Mike Blake
Can you spot all the things in this picture driving US export growth?
  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

USPublished This article is more than 2 years old.

“‘Made in America’ means something” to people and will drive US exports to new heights, US President Barack Obama said Thursday at the semiannual meeting of the President’s Export Council. Since Obama took office, 12-month trailing goods exports have increased 23.6% to $1.56 trillion dollars, according to US Census Bureau data. The reality, however, is that many of America’s fastest growing exported good have no place to affix an American flag sticker.

Non-crude oil accounted for the largest portion of the increase—$53.8 billion, or 18.4% of growth, which slowed in 2012 but has picked up again more recently. At the meeting, the president touted increased domestic oil production as a reason trade deficits have shrunk.

Large US export gains have also come in commodities like gold, soybeans, and coal, though the later two have been on the decline recently.

Some of the export gains are a reflection of price changes as well as demand. The price of a troy ounce of gold was 53% higher in July than in January 2009; the value of US exported gold increased 117% over the same period. Crude oil prices were 151% higher in July of this year than in January 2009.

Boeing CEO James McNerney is the chairman of the President’s Export Council, a committee of business leaders, elected officials and bureaucrats first formed in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, and his company has certainly played its part. Airplanes sales make up 8.9% of US export growth, the second largest component after oil, and have risen by $25.4 billion during Obama’s presidency. At the meeting president said he was “enthusiastic” about airplane exports. “I’m happy to go out and make sales,” Obama joked. “I’m on the list of top salesmen at Boeing.”

He better start working those phones: During his 2010 State of the Union speech, the president laid out a goal of doubling US goods and services exports—at the time $1.59 trillion—by 2016. The US is only 40% of the way there with less than 16 months remaining.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.