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Sign of the times: MIA saw surge in PPE, gold imports

Miami International Airport trade fell 9.17 percent in 2020, in near lockstep with the U.S. average of 9.0, recovering in the last quarter of the year from a much steeper decline during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite that, two imports performed well, gold and the category where personal protective equipment – masks and such – were recorded.

But there is a twist to both stories.

With gold, MIA has been a consistently large importer for better than a decade and a particularly large importer in those years when the economy was on the skids and financial markets were biting their fingernails. 

Take, for example, 2020. 

Gold, the No. 1 import into MIA from 2008 to 2017, before slipping to third and fourth the next two years, increased 128 percent over the 2019 total, an increase worth $1.72 billion. 

Gold again ranked No. 1 in 2020.

What’s unusual this year is the imbalance between gold exports and imports. While the two don’t always align, exports actually suffered a large loss, down $570.60 million, or 51.05 percent.

What’s the explanation? 

Gold trade is somewhat secretive, but gold also poured into New York’s JFK International Airport – enough to briefly make it the nation’s leading gateway for international trade, ahead of even the Port of Los Angeles. Its gold was coming from Switzerland – which is usually on the receiving end of U.S. gold, including from MIA.

Then there’s PPE. The category that includes PPE increased almost 3,800 percent in 2020. MIA imports in 2019 barely topped $5 million, which was the highest total in years. In 2020, that total popped to $200.24 million.

Here’s the twist. We all know that China has been a large benefactor of the U.S. need for masks and other personal protective equipment during the pandemic. But in the case of MIA, there’s another player: Honduras. And Colombia and Guatemala and Nicaragua and El Salvador and on and on.

While China accounted for 27 percent of the total, Honduras alone accounted for 25 percent. Colombia, Guatemala and Nicaragua accounted for almost 30 percent. It’s our understanding that some of the apparel manufacturers in the region simply switched from socks and t-shirts to masks and the like.

Feb. 23 Trade Trends webinar on MIA

Don’t miss our Feb. 23 Trade Trends webinar focused on Miami International Airport -- , from its 2020 performance to the outlook for 2021. WorldCity President Ken Roberts and Americas Market Intelligence Managing Director John Price will provide analysis during the webinar. MIA’s Section Chief of Aviation Marketing Jimmy Nares will share MIA’s role during the pandemic. For more information or to register, click here.

Peru trade tops $1 billion at PortMiami

Overall trade at PortMiami fell 15.25 percent in 2020. And, as was the case with many airports, seaports and border crossings around the nation, most of that loss was suffered in the April through June period, as the economy was shut down to try to get a handle on the rapidly spreading coronavirus.

So, it was quite a feat that the port’s trade with Peru, which had been climbing for the previous three years, topped $1 billion in value for the first time even as three Central American nations ended three consecutive years above $1 billion – Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

In Peru’s case, an influx of gold, the new top import, and silver, the new No. 4-ranked import, made its entry possible into the Billion Dollar Club.

Over at Port Everglades, a jump in PPE imports as well

As was the case at PortMiami, Port Everglades’ trade fell more than the 9 percent national average, down 17.29 percent. As was the case with most of the nation’s airports, seaports and border crossings, most of that loss occurred in May and the months surrounding it.

Nevertheless, like many of the nation’s international trade gateways, Port Everglades saw a surge in imports in the category that included masks and other PPE. Although the category ranked No. 25 in value, at $84 million, it had ranked No. 74 the previous year, with a total of $19.64 million. 

Honduras went from less than 1 percent of the total in this category to more than 31 percent.

Annual statistics for other Florida ports

Here’s a look at the 2020 performance of the leading ports around the state of Florida:

About those recycled cans, plastic bottles and Amazon boxes…

China has stopped accepting much of the United States’ junk: its scrap paper, plastic, aluminum, iron, copper and so much more. 

 As President Biden makes a push on the environment, it raises the question: Where are all those things we dutifully place in recycle bins going?

Watch WorldCity President Ken Roberts discuss this in another episode of Trade Matters on our YouTube channel here

U.S. trade deficit tops $900 billion for first time

“The U.S. trade deficit set a record, topping $900 billion for the first time,” WorldCity President and contributor wrote, because exports fell more than imports, which were supported by strong consumer demand and certainly influenced by massive relief efforts aimed at citizens and businesses alike. Read his column here.

TradeNumbers: Download MIA, Port Everglades TradeNumbers, others from around the country

We are already hard at work on the 2021 TradeNumbers publication for Miami International Airport but if you don’t have a copy of the 2020 version or any of our others, you could. PDF download is free. Click here to download a free PDF of this and many other publications. 

Interested in sponsoring this newsletter next month?

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