U.S. Imports and Exports with Components and Statistics

What Does the United States Trade With Foreign Countries?

© The Balance, 2018

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 importer after the top-ranked EU. 

U.S. Exports

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 is travel services, at $291 billion. Computer and business services export $191 billion. The next category is royalties and license fees, at $124 billion. Other private services, such as financial services, add $121 billion. Government and military contracts add $20 billion. 

U.S. Imports

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 television 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 is 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