US Imports and Exports with Components and Statistics

What Does the United States Trade With Foreign Countries?

U.S. imports and exports for 2019 totaled $5.6 trillion, with $3.1 trillion in imports and $2.5 trillion in exports

Image by © The Balance 2020

In 2019, the total U.S. trade with foreign countries was $5.6 trillion. That was $2.5 trillion in exports and $3.1 trillion in imports of both goods and services.

Key Takeaways

  • The United States imports more than it exports.
  • The 2019 U.S. trade balance is negative, showing a deficit of $617 billion.
  • Capital goods comprise the largest portions of both U.S. exports and imports.
  • The United States exports more services than it imports.  

U.S. Exports

Goods contribute 66%, or $1.7 trillion, to U.S. exports. One-third of exported goods are capital goods ($547 billion). The largest sub-category is commercial aircraft ($132 billion). Other capital goods include industrial machines ($57 billion), semiconductors ($50 billion), and telecommunications ($36 billion). Electric apparatus ($44 billion) and medical equipment ($38 billion) are also significant contributors.

Another third of exported goods is industrial supplies ($531 billion). The largest sub-category is petroleum products ($122 billion). Next are chemical products ($81 billion), fuel oil ($41 billion), and plastic ($37 billion). Non-monetary gold is $19 billion.

Only 12% of U.S. exported goods are consumer goods ($206 billion). The biggest categories are pharmaceutical preparations ($55 billion), cell phones ($27 billion), and gem diamonds ($20 billion). 

Automobiles contribute 10% of all exported goods. In 2019, that was $162 billion.

Just 8% of exported goods are foods, feeds, and beverages ($131 billion). The big three are soybeans ($20 billion), meat and poultry ($20 billion), and corn ($9 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 negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Services make up one-third of U.S. exports ($847 billion). The largest single category is travel services at $306 billion. Computer and business services export $228 billion. The next category is royalties and license fees at $129 billion. Other private services, such as financial services, also add $131 billion. Government and military contracts add $21 billion. 

U.S. Imports

More than 80% of U.S. imports are goods ($2.5 trillion). Capital goods ($678 billion) contribute 27% of all goods imported. That includes computers at $131 billion and telecommunications at $117 billion.

Next is consumer goods ($654 billion). The top two categories are cell phones/television at $132 billion and pharmaceuticals at $149 billion. Next is the apparel and footwear category at $130 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 ($522 billion). The largest sub-category is oil and petroleum products, at $191 billion.

The fourth-largest import category is automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($376 billion). The food, feeds, and beverages category is the smallest at $151 billion. 

Services make up 19% of imports ($597 billion). The largest category is travel services at $262 billion. The next is business and computer services at $161 billion. Banking and insurance is $84 billion. Last but not least is government service imports at $24 billion. 

Since the United States imports more than it exports, its trade deficit is $617 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

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Article Sources

  1. United States Census Bureau. "Exhibit 1. U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.

  2. United States Census Bureau. "Exhibit 7. U.S. Exports of Goods by End-Use Category and Commodity." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.

  3. United States Census Bureau. "Exhibit 3. U.S. Exports of Services by Major Category." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.

  4. United States Census Bureau. "Exhibit 8. U.S. Imports of Goods by End-Use Category and Commodity." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.

  5. United States Census Bureau. "Exhibit 4. U.S. Imports of Services by Major Category." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.