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Import/Export Price Indexes

Recent Price Trends in the Metal Industry

An overview of Semiconductor Manufacturing price indexes


Metal cogs

U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes contain data on changes in the prices of nonmilitary goods and services traded between the United States and the world. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics produces these indexes, which are Principal Federal Economic Indicators.

Q: How have import metal prices trended over the 2018–2020 period? (See chart 1)

  • Primary metal manufacturing import prices increased 25.7 percent from December 2017 to December 2020. The index rose a modest 2.6 percent from December 2017 to April 2020. Most of the advance during the 3-year period occurred during the second half of 2020, with the index rising 23.2 percent from May 2020 to December 2020.
  • In 2020, prices for primary metal manufacturing imports rose 20.9 percent. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the index sharply fell 6.6 percent from March to April 2020. That was the largest monthly decrease since the index declined 10.8 percent in December 2008.
  • Increasing prices for nonferrous metal (except aluminum) production led to the rise of import prices for primary metal manufacturing over the second half of 2020.

Q: How did import metal prices compare with other economic data?

  • The trend in import primary metal manufacturing prices differed from producer and export prices over the 3-year period. Although all price indexes rose, in the second half of 2019 producer prices fell in contrast to import and export prices, which advanced. Throughout 2020, producer prices increased at a slower rate compared to import and export prices.
  • The primary metal manufacturing producer price index increased 6.4 percent over the 3-year period ended December 2020. The index rose 11.8 percent in 2018, decreased 9.7 percent in 2019, and then increased 5.3 percent in 2020.

Q: How have export metal prices trended over the 2018–2020 period? (See chart 1)

  • Export primary metals prices increased 28.7 percent from December 2017 to December 2020. Prices for export primary metals increased 2.7 percent in 2018, 6.3 percent in 2019, and 17.9 percent in 2020.
  • The 17.9-percent advance in 2020 was largely driven by increases in the second half of the year. The export price index rose 6.8 percent from December 2019 to June 2020, then advanced 10.4 percent from June 2020 to December 2020.
  • Higher nonferrous metal (except aluminum) production and processing prices led the 2020 rise.

Q: What are the top six exporting states and territories for metal manufacturing? (See chart 2)

  • In 2020, the total trade value of exported primary metals was $57.1 billion, an 8.1-percent rise from 2019. The top 6 exporting states accounted for 63.4 percent of this value.
  • Utah totaled $9.2 billion in primary metal manufacturing exports in 2020, ranking first among U.S. states and territories.
  • New York and New Jersey ranked second and third in 2020, with $8.9 billion and $7.1 billion in trade dollar value, respectively. Together, the 2 states accounted for 28.0 percent of total U.S. primary metal manufacturing exports in 2020.

Q: How are import and export price indexes useful to you?

Import and export price indexes can provide a new perspective for your trade analyses. Although many sources report domestic market prices and trade volume, IPP data are unique in measuring import and export price movement.

For example, if you are involved in the chemical industry and are considering conducting business overseas, IPP chemical manufacturing indexes can supplement your industry research by providing long-term import and export price trends.

Q: How are import and export price indexes used?

Import and export price indexes are used for a variety of purposes:

  • In the conversion of U.S. trade figures from current dollars to constant dollars in U.S. trade statistics including the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Quarterly Gross Domestic Product and the Census Bureau’s monthly U.S. trade statistics.
  • To assess the impact of international trade on domestic inflation and the competitive position of the United States.
  • As a tool for analyzing fiscal and monetary policy, measuring the impact of exchange rates, and escalating trade contracts.
  • To identify industry-specific and global price trends.

Last Modified Date: November 4, 2021