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Who are USA's biggest importers? - Answers

Questions answered : 1066||Last updated on : December 10th, 2018 At 11:10pm (ET)
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Who are USA’s biggest importers?

Infographic and Map on US major ImportsThe total trade in US Goods and Services, exports plus imports, was $5.231 trillion in 2017. Total export volume was $2.331 trillion, and US imports was $2.900 trillion. The trade deficit (exports minus imports) in 2017 was; $0.568 trillion.

It is this trade deficit that has been a major cause of concern for the Trump Administration, and in March 2018, announced tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports.

The country most impacted by this decision has been China. China is the largest producer of steel and aluminum in the world and is the largest supplier of goods and services to the United States.

Top 15 Sources for US Imports   (in the US $ million)
Country Goods & Services  Goods  Services
2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015 2017 2016 2015
Canada 338,917 313,524 331,902 306,131 283,574 302,731 32,786 29,950 29,171
Mexico 345,974 324,972 326,214 319,699 300,403 303,335 26,276 24,569 22,878
China 524,019 479,428 499,122 506,469 463,288 484,058 17,550 16,139 15,064
UK 109,535 106,644 112,181 53,760 54,946 58,592 55,776 51,698 53,589
Japan 171,017 165,188 163,821 138,431 134,184 134,302 32,586 31,004 29,519
Germany 152,717 147,968 157,190 118,112 114,573 125,393 34,604 33,395 31,777
South Korea 82,626 81,358 83,667 71,621 70,384 72,430 11,005 10,974 11,237
Brazil 32,274 31,417 34,272 27,752 24,620 26,438 6,522 6,797 7,834
France 66,974 63,495 64,668 49,244 47,044 48,357 17,700 16,451 16,311
Hong Kong 17,596 16,532 16,147 7,978 7,784 7,309 9,619 8,748 8,838
India 77,413 71,933 69,519 48,736 46,125 44,909 28,677 25,808 24,610
Singapore 26,995 25,044 25,043 19,360 17,786 18,330 7,635 7,258 6,713
Taiwan 50,671 46,979 48,649 42,538 39,248 41,004 8,132 7,732 7,645
Italy 62,424 56,810 55,204 50,179 45,471 44,418 12,245 11,339 10,786
Saudia Arabia 20,150 18,145 23,265 18,938 16,982 22,148 1,212 1,163 1,117

In 2017, US imports with the Chinese touched $524.01 billion, close to the total trade deficit the U.S. recorded for 2017, all countries included. In retaliation to U.S. imposition of tariffs aimed mainly at China, China imposed counter tariffs on manufactured goods and commodities from the U.S.

Trade representatives on both sides remain engaged trying to avert a trade war that will affect economies of both countries, and also could drag global trade with it.

After China, Mexico and Canada respectively, are the biggest trading partners of the United States. Mexico and China have recorded the maximum growth in trade with the U.S. since 2015. The U.S., Mexico, and Canada are signatories to the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and this has boosted trade among the three countries. The biggest beneficiary being Mexico that witnessed several leading American manufacturing companies, including automobiles, to shift their production to Mexico. Goods produced in Mexico were cheaper to the end user (the customers) in the U.S., but also led to a reduction in manufacturing jobs in the United States. While Mexico has been the second biggest goods supplier to the U.S., Canada was the third largest services provider, to the U.S.

The challenge of bringing back jobs to the U.S. along with unfavorable trade terms of NAFTA prompted the Trump administration to push for a renegotiation of the agreement. The uncertainty over NAFTA pending final settlement is likely to reflect on trade figures of all three countries in 2018-19.

The United Kingdom remained the 6th largest supplier of goods and services to the U.S.; it was the largest services provider touching $55.77 billion in 2017. BREXIT is not expected to impact the services business to the U.S. in 2018-19 greatly, but trade between the UK and the EU is expected to get affected.

Top  15 U.S. Imports in 2017  by Product Category (U.S. $ millions)
Petroleum and Non-Petroleum 2,266,954
Capital Goods, except Automotive 702,061
Consumer Goods 588,681
Industrial Supplies and Materials 487,199
Automotive Vehicles, Parts and Engines 354,006
Foods, Feeds, and Beverages 104,757
Other Goods 92,088

The United States is the world’s biggest importer of goods and services. The country has been facing a widening trade deficit (imports exceeding exports) especially with its biggest trading partner China.

Overall imports have far exceeded exports for the country for a long time. Despite emerging as the world’s second largest producer of petroleum and related products, the U.S. imports in 2017 reached $2.26 trillion (exports were $1.50 trillion). The U.S. has invested heavily in shale gas, but at the time global prices of crude oil dipped to record levels, and production of shale became unviable.

In 2018, with global prices for crude oil rising to $70 per barrel, shale production once again is looking attractive. The U.S. is likely to remain a large producer of shale gas in the future. Exports of shale gas are likely to offset any future reduction in demand for crude oil for the U.S.

Through most of the 20th century, the U.S. economy has grown on the innovation and development of capital goods spurred by domestic and global demand. While the U.S. remains a leader in innovation and development, China is fast catching up in not only low-cost production but is beginning to challenge U.S. lead in innovation and development.

In 2017, the second largest imports after petroleum were capital goods. The U.S. imports recorded $702.06 billion (exports $544.70 billion). Growing imports of petroleum have been another area of concern for the Trump administration. How to reduce the trade deficit?

Top  15 U.S. Imports in 2017 – Goods (U.S. $ millions)
Passenger Cars, Old & New 29,831
Crude Oil 25,377
Pharmaceutical Preparations 18,817
Other Parts and Accessories of Vehicles 17,762
Cellphones and other Household Goods 17,072
Telecommunications Equipment 12,828
Computers 10,159
Computer Accessories 9,335
Industrial Machines, Other 8,897
Semiconductors 8,718
Apparel, Textiles, Non-wool or Cotton 8,495
Electric Apparatus 8,389
Apparel, Household goods – Cotton 7,179
Medical Equipment 6,315
Toys, Games, Sporting Goods 6,112

Passenger cars, both old and new, remain the U.S.’s biggest import of manufactured goods. Automotive accessories too have been major imports for the U.S.

In 2017, the total U.S. imports of passenger cars touched $29.83 billion (exports $9.92 billion). The U.S. faced a trade deficit $19.91 billion on cars.

Petroleum products were the second largest import followed by pharmaceutical preparations. Import value of mobile phones, consumer electronics, and consumer durables was almost the same as automotive parts and accessories, another area where China dominates global production.

Top  U.S. Imports in 2017 – Advanced Technology Products (U.S. $ millions)
Total Imports 64,450
Information and Communications 34,276
Life Science 7,517
Aerospace 7,012
Electronics 6,489
Biotechnology 4,032
Optoelectronics 2,356
Flexible Manufacturing 1,999
Advanced Materials 422
Nuclear Technology 201
Weapons 145

In advanced technology, IT and related products comprised the largest segment by value recording $34.27 billion in 2017. Overall, besides China, countries like Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, and France were major beneficiaries of U.S. imports, as suppliers of high technology products. The U.S. remains a large market for aerospace and life sciences related products.

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