With so much focus on trade imbalances between the U.S. and the rest of the world, I found data in the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report on fluid power imports/exports to be of high interest for two reasons: fluid power remains a highly used means of automation and control despite increased electronic automation use in the past decade, and 2) the number of areas in which the U.S. retains a sizable surplus in trade for this technology.
The report was sent to me by the National Fluid Power Association and represented data aggregated and summarized by the U.S. Census Bureau for the first six months of 2010.
According to the report, the top three countries with which the U.S. has the most sizable surplus in fluid technology exports are Brazil, South America and Australia/New Zealand. Combined, these three countries represent $215,365,960 worth of surplus fluid power trade for the U.S. This amounts to about 46% of the surplus U.S. fluid power exports.
Conversely, the top three countries with which the U.S. has the most sizable deficits are Germany, Japan, and Europe “Other” (i.e., all European countries other than Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom). With these top three regions alone, the U.S. runs a fluid power trade deficit of $603,410,585. Ouch!
Despite all the discussion about our trade imbalance with China, when it comes to fluid power, China ranks fifth (behind Italy). To provide a sense of comparison, our fluid power trade deficit with Germany in the first six months of 2010 was $261,434,993. With China it was $52,524,122 (barely 20% of the deficit with Germany).
Across all fluid power technologies, the U.S. runs a deficit of $354,079,942 — which is a little more than 35% higher in total than our deficit with Germany alone. This indicates that, despite our overall fluid power technology deficit, the trade imbalance in fluid power is not grossly tilted toward imports.
Looking at specific fluid power technologies, the U.S. runs the biggest surplus on compressors, reciprocating hydraulic pumps and hydraulic valves. The technologies where the U.S. has the largest deficits are rotary hydraulic pumps, linear hydraulic actuators and vacuum pumps.
The economy in general has been a big topic in the automation and control sector lately – we even have an ongoing discussion on it taking place now at our “System & Product Design Engineering” group. We would be interested to hear your thoughts. You can access the discussion at http://bitly.com/DNeconomy