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Why are Export Statistics and the Foreign Trade Regulations Important To You?

Wed Sep 18 2013
Sean Kline
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Why are export statistics important to the average person?

The average person in America may not find export statistics relevant. What they may not realize is that the balance of trade (as presented in the U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Report), has a significant impact on our economy and is an integral part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These data can provide insight into the health of the economy. As you can see from the graph below, exports slowed from 2008 to 2009 but then began to rise annually after the “great recession” ended in 2009. Since these statistics are such important measures of the economy, the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis have implemented an accelerated release program in which the U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Report is available almost a week earlier than before. Here at the Census Bureau, our goal is to provide the most timely and accurate statistics possible so that you have access to the information when you need it.Why are the Foreign Trade Regulations important to the average person?

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The Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) regulate all exports of goods out of the United States. Even if you may not consider yourself an exporter, a simple trip to the Post Office can change your responsibilities. Every day I receive calls from people sending packages to foreign countries. Although typically most packages don’t require an AES filing, you do need to know the exemption that applies your shipment.

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For example, when I sent care packages to my brother in Afghanistan, I used exemption NOEEI 30.37(a) because the items were valued under $2,500 and did not require a license. This is just one example of the many instances in which the average American can become an exporter and fall within the scope of the FTR.

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For more information about the FTR, please visit our website at

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