Home This Week Economy Puerto Rico exported $41 billion, imported $24.5 billion in 2011
Issued : Tuesday, October 16, 2012 12:00 AM
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Puerto Rico exported $41 billion, imported $24.5 billion in 2011

Edition: October 18, 2012 | Volume: 40 | No: 41

Island ranked No. 26 among nation’s four-dozen customs districts last year, according to WorldCity

Puerto Rico's trade with the world, excluding the U.S., was a record-breaking $41 billion in 2011, double the total for 2001 and four times the total for 1996, according to a WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

The island ranked No. 26 among the roughly four-dozen U.S. Customs & Border Protection districts, down two positions from 2010 and four from 2009. Twenty years ago, however, it ranked No. 30.

In 2011, Puerto Rico's total trade of $41 billion—a combination of its exports to the world and imports from the world—increased 2.34%, which was below the U.S. average of 15.54%.

Exports were the drag on trade growth in 2011, dropping 20.31% to $16.5 billion, their lowest level since 2007. Imports, however, increased to a record-setting $24.5 billion, an increase of 26.57%, or $5.14 billion.

Because exports fell sharply and imports increased just as sharply, Puerto Rico's first and only trade surplus in at least two decades—$ 1.35 billion in 2010— evaporated and turned into a $7.99 billion trade deficit in 2011. Until 2011, that deficit had fallen for five-straight years.

However, the 2011 trade deficit isn't a record; during five other years in the past decade, Puerto Rico registered a larger trade deficit.


Exports to the U.S. mainland increased 15.83% over the 2010 level, to $40.94 billion. At the same time, imports from the U.S. mainland amounted to $20.35 billion, for a trade total of $61.29 billion.

More than $24 billion of exports to the mainland U.S. were medicines, with the largest identified in the Census data being antidepressants and cardiovascular treatments. Other important exports, in terms of value, to the U.S. include miscellaneous preparations for beverage manufacture, blood fractions and medical equipment.

On the import side, more than $2 billion were medicines, with the largest groups affecting the digestive, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Another $1 billion-plus each was in imports of blood and plasma as well as motor vehicles.


For the 14th-consecutive year, Ireland was Puerto Rico's No. 1-ranked trade partner. The value of trade in 2011, fast approaching the $10 billion milestone, ended at $9.34 billion—a 32.19% increase over 2010.

Ireland accounted for 22.97% of all Puerto Rico trade in 2011, the highest percentage since 2007, when it accounted for 24.51%.

In addition to Ireland, Puerto Rico traded with 156 nations in 2011, which was a record, although more than 80% of that trade was with the top-15. In percentage terms, the three fastest-growing trade partners among the top 15 were No. 2 Singapore, up 53.11%; No. 13 Brazil, up 65.95%; and No. 15 Hong Kong, up 90.53%.

Coincidentally, Dominican Republic ranked No. 12, while China was No. 7.

Besides Ireland, 11 other nations exceeded $1 billion in trade with Puerto Rico in 2011, which was a record number of countries. Japan, the island's No. 3 trade partner, was the first nation to reach the $1 billion trade mark with Puerto Rico in 1993.

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