Commerce Department trade data released today show that overall U.S. exports of goods and services in July were up 15 percent over July 2010, still on track for doubling in five years.  However, this was due to a 30 percent increase in exports of industrial supplies and raw materials and a 22 percent increase in agricultural exports.

Manufactured goods, by far the largest U.S. export category, lagged behind, up 11 percent over July 2010.  Services exports also lagged, up 10 percent over last July.  Both of these vital categories of U.S. export have fallen below the 15 percent annual rate of growth path necessary for doubling in five years.

Capital goods exports, which comprise nearly half of manufactured goods exports, rose only 9 percent over last July. 

The slowing rates of growth for these important exports indicate that renewed attention is needed to spur U.S. export growth.  Importantly, greater access to foreign markets is needed, beginning with the need to pass and implement the three pending bilateral trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama.

The importance of bilateral agreements is evident in the Commerce Departments figures  that show a large and rising U.S. trade surplus in manufactured goods.  That surplus has cumulated to over $20 billion for the first half of this year.

That surplus contrasts with the large manufactured goods deficit with the rest of the world.  For the first seven months of this year, the total manufactured goods deficit was $255 billion, up from $214 billion for the comparable period of 2010.

The U.S. deficit in petroleum and products was $194 billion for the first seven months of the year, compared to $157 for the first seven months of 2010.  This figure continues to underscores the urgency of taking additional steps to develop additional domestic sources of energy. 

Frank Vargo is vice president for international economic affairs, National Association of Manufacturers.