In 2018, roughly a third of American exported goods (33.9%) were delivered to Canada and Mexico.
The world’s second-largest exporter, the United States shipped US$1.666 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar figure represents an estimated 8.6% of overall global exports calculated to be $19.347 trillion based on 2018 for all countries.
In addition to the third delivered to North America, roughly a third (33.9%) of US exports by value were delivered to fellow North American countries while 31.4% were sold to importers in Asia. America shipped another 21.6% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Latin America (9.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Oceania (1.8%) led by Australia and New Zealand, then Africa (1.6%).
US Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of America’s top trading partners in terms of US export sales; that is, countries that imported the most American shipments by dollar value during 2018. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total American exports.
- Canada: US$299.8 billion (18% of total US exports)
- Mexico: $265.4 billion (15.9%)
- China: $120.1 billion (7.2%)
- Japan: $75.2 billion (4.5%)
- United Kingdom: $66.3 billion (4%)
- Germany: $57.8 billion (3.5%)
- South Korea: $56.5 billion (3.4%)
- Netherlands: $48.7 billion (2.9%)
- Brazil: $39.6 billion (2.4%)
- France: $37.7 billion (2.3%)
- Hong Kong: $37.3 billion (2.2%)
- India: $33.5 billion (2%)
- Singapore: $32.7 billion (2%)
- Belgium: $31.4 billion (1.9%)
- Taiwan: $30.6 billion (1.8%)
Almost three-quarters (74%) of American exports in 2018 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Thirteen of the top 15 trading partners increased their purchases of American exports from 2017 to 2018. Leading the double-digit increases were India (up 30.6%), Taiwan (up 18.7%), United Kingdom (up 17.9%), Netherlands (up 17.4%), South Korea (up 16.9%), Japan (up 11.3%), Singapore (up 10.4%) then France (up 10%).
There were two year-over-year declines, -7.4% for China and -6.4% for Hong Kong.
The US compiled an overall -$946.4 billion trade deficit for 2018, expanding by 10.1% from the -$859.9 billion in red ink for all products one year earlier during 2017.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
United States incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- China: -US$443.1 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2018)
- Mexico: -$83.8 billion
- Japan: -$70.7 billion
- Germany: -$70.6 billion
- Ireland: -$47 billion
- Vietnam: -$41.6 billion
- Italy: -$33.5 billion
- Malaysia: -$27.1 billion
- Canada: -$26.4 billion
- India: -$22.9 billion
Among America’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, US deficits with Ireland (up 22.3%), Mexico (up 15.9%), China (up 11.9%), Canada (up 11.2%) and Malaysia (up 7.5%) expanded at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate America’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for United States to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
United States incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- Hong Kong: US$30.9 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2018)
- Netherlands: $23.4 billion
- Australia: $14.9 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $14.3 billion
- Belgium: $13.5 billion
- Brazil: $7.3 billion
- Panama: $6.4 billion
- Singapore: $5.9 billion
- Argentina: $4.9 billion
- United Kingdom: $4.5 billion
Among America’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, US surpluses with United Kingdom (up 127.7%), Panama (up 9.8%) and Brazil (up 7.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate America’s competitive advantages with the above countries, and also represent key opportunities for United States to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing American Trading Partners
According to JOC.com, the following were the top US companies that shipped products from United States to its import partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis is the product category that the American business specializes in.
- Koch Industries (recovered wastepaper, plastic scrap, animal feeds)
- International Paper (paper, packaging)
- DeLong (animal feed, grain)
- Denison International (recyclable paper)
- DuPont (diversified chemicals)
- MeadWestvaco/RockTenn (paper, packaging)
- Sims Metal Management (recycled metals, electronics)
- Newport CH International (recycled paper, metals, plastics)
- Potential Industries (paper for recycling)
See also United States Top 10 Imports, United States Top 10 Exports, Top United States Trade Balances and America’s Top 20 Export States and United States Top 10 Major Export Companies
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 7, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on July 26, 2019
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on November 9, 2015
JOC.com, Top 100 US Exporters. Accessed on November 9, 2015