US Imports and Exports with Components and Statistics

What Does the United States Trade With Foreign Countries?

Image by © The Balance 2019

In 2018, 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.

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 67%, or $1.7 trillion, to U.S. exports. One-third of exported goods are capital goods ($562 billion). The largest sub-category is commercial aircraft ($130 billion). Other capital goods include industrial machines ($60 billion), semiconductors ($48 billion), and telecommunications ($37 billion). Electric apparatus ($46 billion) and medical equipment ($37 billion) are also significant contributors.

Another third of exported goods is industrial supplies ($539 billion). The largest sub-category is chemicals ($62 billion). Next are petroleum products ($111 billion), fuel oil ($42 billion), and plastic ($38 billion). Non-monetary gold is $21 billion.

Only 12% of U.S. exported goods are consumer goods ($206 billion). The biggest categories are pharmaceuticals ($55 billion), cell phones ($27 billion), and gem diamonds ($22 billion). 

Automobiles contribute 9% of all exported goods. In 2018, that was $159 billion.

Just 9% of exported goods are foods, feeds, and beverages ($133 billion). The big three are soybeans ($18 billion), meat and poultry ($20 billion), and corn ($14 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 ($828 billion). The largest single category is travel services at $307 billion. Computer and business services export $206 billion. The next category is royalties and license fees at $132 billion. Other private services, such as financial services, also add $132 billion. Government and military contracts add $20 billion. 

U.S. Imports

More than 80% of U.S. imports are goods ($2.6 trillion). Capital goods ($693 billion) contribute 27% of all goods imported. That includes computers at $143 billion and telecommunications at $128 billion.

Next is consumer goods ($648 billion). The top two categories are cell phones / television at $134 billion and pharmaceuticals also at $134 billion. Next is the apparel and footwear category at $129 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 ($576 billion). The largest sub-category is oil and petroleum products, at $215 billion.

The fourth-largest import category is automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($372 billion). The food, feeds, and beverages category is the smallest at $147 billion. 

Services make up 18% of imports ($558 billion). The largest category is travel services at $253 billion. The next is business and computer services at $151 billion. Banking and insurance is $69 billion. Last but not least is government service imports at $23 billion. 

Since the United States imports more than it exports, its trade deficit is $621 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