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February 18, 2011


The Aerospace Balance of Trade

by brainoids

A few loose graphs and fun (well, at least for wonks) facts to share.

First: a reminder that the U.S. aerospace industry still dominates the U.S. net exports (balance of trade) with the rest of the world, as manufacturing industries go.    This courtesy of the annual rack and stack of data from the Aerospace Industries Association.

The bulk of this positive balance (net exports) is the “aero” part of the picture, that is, aviation.   A small, but critical, additional part of the export picture is in the “space” part of the sector. A billion and change of space-related net exports a year is small compared to aircraft tens of billions of dollars of aircraft exports, but not trivial when compared with all of the industrial sectors in which the balance is negative.

What is less well known is that the space sector positive balance is steadily dwindling.   The trend is slow; ten-year averaging helps pull it out from the data.  The year the U.S. buys more satellites, rockets or missiles from the rest of the world than it sells (looking to be somewhere in the 2025-2030 timeframe, based on the current trends) will be a quiet but important page-turning event in history, perhaps more symbolic than strategic (we are after all net importers of far more strategic assets such as fossil fuels).

Still, the world, it is a’changing.


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