The U.S. is a leading global trader, and exports in goods and services accounted for more than 10 percent of GDP over the last two decades; in 2012, they accounted for about 13 percent, one of the largest shares since at least 1929.

Growing exports of goods and services have been a central driver of the economic recovery and contributed about half of the nation’s economic growth in the two years after the recession. Much of the rise in exports is a result of the global rebound from the depths of the recession, the depreciation of the dollar, and the soaring prices for commodities, including for wheat, cotton, and petroleum products.

The United States is a consumer-driven economy, and consumer spending makes up about two-thirds of GDP. Excluding exports of services, agriculture, and minerals, exports in manufacturing make up only 6 percent of the U.S. economy. Without real improvement in the labor market and a sustained recovery in housing, the rebound in exports alone is not enough to bring the U.S. economy back to its pre-recession growth path.

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