Florida trade dips in 2013 on lower gold prices -->
Feb. 10--The 2013 numbers are out, and South Florida's trade with the world fell in 2013 for the first time since the Great Recession hit in 2008.
Two main reasons explain the decline: a drop in the price of gold, a top import and export; and smaller sales to Venezuela, a key market now struggling with dollar shortages, said Ken Roberts, president of media company WorldCity, which analyzes U.S. trade numbers.
For the year, South Florida exchanged $120.5 billion in goods directly with foreign airports and seaports, down by $4.1 billion, or 3 percent from 2012.
Despite the dip, the total remained the second-highest ever for South Florida trade, underscoring the importance of international commerce for the Key West to Fort Pierce area, Roberts said.
In 2013, South Florida exports fell 7 percent to $67.9 billion, largely from lower values for gold shipped to Switzerland and other financial havens. Gold prices dropped 28 percent last year.
South Florida imports rose 2 percent to $52.6 billon, reflecting a pick-up in the U.S. economy and higher prices for gasoline, the data show. The area continued to sell more overseas than it bought.
For 2014, South Florida faces challenges to trade. It no longer can ride the "gold" wave that boosted dollar values. And its hefty sales of computers to Latin America are off, as prices fall and consumers switch to smaller tablets and cellphones.
"South Florida needs to work hard to remain the place where Latin American countries come to shop -- as opposed to Houston, which has been taking away market share," said Roberts.
South Florida top trade partners in 2013
Country; Trade; from 2012
Brazil; $16.8 billion; +2.3%
Colombia; $9.3 billion; -5.4%
Costa Rica; $7.9 billion; +2.3%
China; $6.6 billion; +7.5%
Venezuela; $5.6 billion; -15.7%
Source: Coral Gables-based WorldCity, which analyzes U.S. Census numbers on trade.
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