U.S. Imports and Exports: Components and Statistics
What Does the United States Trade With Foreign Countries?
In 2017, total U.S. trade with foreign countries was $5.2 trillion. That was $2.3 trillion in exports and $2.9 trillion in imports of both goods and services. The United States was the world's third-largest exporter, after China and the European Union. It was the world's second-largest largest importer after the EU.
Goods contribute two-thirds of U.S. exports ($1.4 trillion). One-third of exported goods are capital goods ($533 billion). The largest sub-category is commercial aircraft ($121 billion). Other capital goods include industrial machines ($57 billion), semiconductors ($48 billion), and telecommunications ($38 billion). Electric apparatus ($43 billion) and medical equipment ($35 billion) are also significant contributors.
Another third of exported goods is industrial supplies ($463 billion). The largest sub-category is chemicals ($77 billion). Next are petroleum products ($71 billion), fuel oil ($38 billion) and plastic ($34 billion). Non-monetary gold is $21 billion.
Only 13 percent of U.S. exported goods are consumer goods ($198 billion). The biggest categories are pharmaceuticals ($51 billion), cell phones ($27 billion) and gem diamonds ($21 billion).
Automobiles contribute 10 percent of all exported goods. In 2017, that was $158 billion.
Just 9 percent of exported goods are foods, feeds, and beverages ($133 billion). The big three are soybeans ($22 billion), meat and poultry ($19 billion) and corn ($10 billion). Food exports are falling since many countries don't like U.S. food processing standards. That was a major block to the Obama administration's successful negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Services make up one-third of U.S. exports ($778 billion). The largest single category was travel services, at $291 billion. Computer and business services export $191 billion. The next category was royalties and license fees, at $124 billion. Other private services, such as financial services, added $121 billion. Government and military contracts added $20 billion.
More than 80 percent of U.S. imports are goods ($2.4 trillion). Capital goods ($641 billion) contibute 27 percent. That includes computers ($128 billion) and telecommunications equipment, including semiconductors ($128 billion).
Next is consumer goods ($602 billion). Of this, the cell phone and TV category ($121 billion) is the largest. Next is apparel and footwear ($123 billion). Pharmaceutical imports are $110 billion. U.S consumer spending is dependent upon these low-cost imported goods.
Slightly less than a quarter of imports are industrial machinery and equipment ($508 billion). The largest sub-category is oil and petroleum products, at $183 billion.
The fourth-largest import category is automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($359 billion). The food, feeds and beverages category is the smallest, at $138 billion.
Services make up 18 percent of imports ($534 billion). The largest category is travel and transportation services at $236 billion. The next is business and computer services at $141 billion. Banking and insurance is $76 billion. Last but not least was government service imports at $21 billion.
Since the United States imports more than it exports, its trade deficit is $502 billion. Even though America exports billions in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more.
How U.S. Imports and Exports Fit Into the Balance of Payments
- Current Account
- Capital Account
- Financial Account