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Key Economic Trends

  • The global economic downturn in 2009 led to an 11 percent decline in U.S. exports and a 16 percent decrease in U.S. imports in the miscellaneous manufactures sector, which resulted in an 18 percent reduction in the U.S. trade deficit in the sector.
  • Declining tours of foreign works of art and sales by U.S. art auction houses to customers from Asia led to a $895 million (15 percent) decrease in U.S. exports of works of art and antiques. Reduced exports of furniture (20 percent), especially office furniture to Canada and Mexico, and golf equipment (32 percent), primarily to the United Kingdom, were also caused by the global economic downturn in 2009.
  • International arms trade was one of the few product groups that appeared immune to the effects of the recession, with U.S. exports of arms, ammunition, and armored fighting vehicles growing by $353 million (9 percent) in 2009. Most of the increase was accounted for by rising exports of bombs, grenades, and missiles and armored fighting vehicles.
  • U.S. imports of furniture experienced the greatest drop in demand within the miscellaneous manufactures sector as new single family housing starts declined. U.S. manufacturers’ shipments of furniture fell by 19 percent and imports of furniture decreased by 21 percent in 2009.
  • Other product groups experiencing recession-related decreases in U.S. imports in 2009 were works of art and antiques (chiefly from Europe), down by 33 percent; gold and silver jewelry (primarily from China, India, Thailand, and Italy), down by 21 percent; and travel goods, including luggage, handbags, and flatgoods (mostly from China, Italy, and France), down by 18 percent. The value of U.S. imports of toys and games also fell by 11 percent (down $2.6 billion) in 2009; in particular, the price of video game consoles dropped 16 percent as the market for them matured.

Trade Shifts from 2008 to 2009

  • U.S. trade deficit: Decreased by $13.3 billion (18 percent) to $59.7 billion
  • U.S. exports: Decreased by $3.1 billion (11 percent) to $24.8 billion
  • U.S. imports: Decreased by $16.4 billion (16 percent) to $84.4 billion