But when it comes to America’s top trading partners particularly for its North American business, perhaps that should be the “Land of Free Trade” given over a third of American exports (34.3%) are delivered to Canada and Mexico. Those 3 countries are free trade partners under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The world’s second-largest exporter, the United States shipped US$1.505 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2015. That figure represents roughly 8.1% of overall global exports estimated at $18.686 trillion based on 2014 statistics.
From a continental perspective, 34.3% of America’s total exports by value in 2015 were delivered to other North American trade partners.
Asian importers purchased 31.2% of American shipments while 20.6% worth arrived in Europe.
America’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of America’s top trading partners in terms of US export sales; that iss, countries that imported the most American shipments by dollar value during 2015. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total American exports.
- Canada: US$280 billion (18.6% of total American exports)
- Mexico: $236.4 billion (15.7%)
- China: $116.2 billion (7.7%)
- Japan: $62.5 billion (4.2%)
- United Kingdom: $56.4 billion (3.7%)
- Germany: $49.9 billion (3.3%)
- South Korea: $43.5 billion (2.9%)
- Netherlands: $40.7 billion (2.7%)
- Hong Kong: $37.2 billion (2.5%)
- Belgium: $34.1 billion (2.3%)
- Brazil: $31.7 billion (2.1%)
- France: $31.5 billion (2.1%)
- Singapore: $28.7 billion (1.9%)
- Taiwan: $25.9 billion (1.7%)
- Australia: $25 billion (1.7%)
Almost three-quarters (73.1%) of American exports in 2015 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Only two importers on the above list increased their purchases of American exports from 2011 to 2015: United Kingdom (up 4.7%) and Germany (up 1.9%).
Among the decliners, our studies showed that the loss leaders were Brazil (US imports down -25.4%) and Canada (down -10.4%).
Mexico (down -1.6%) and Belgium (down -1.9%) posted the mildest one-year slowdowns.
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.
In 2015, United States incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$386.5 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2015)
- Germany: -$76.5 billion
- Japan: -$72.3 billion
- Mexico: -$61.1 billion
- Vietnam: -$32.6 billion
- South Korea: -$30.6 billion
- Ireland: -$30.6 billion
- Italy: -$29 billion
- India: -$25.1 billion
- Malaysia: -$22.3 billion
Among United States trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, American deficits with Vietnam (up 147.4%), South Korea (up 132%) and Malaysia (up 93.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2015.
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.
In 2015, United States incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Hong Kong: US$30.3 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2015)
- Netherlands: $23.1 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $20.4 billion
- Belgium: $14.1 billion
- Australia: $13.9 billion
- Singapore: $10.2 billion
- Panama: $7.4 billion
- Chile: $5.9 billion
- Argentina: $5.2 billion
- Peru: $3.4 billion
Among United States import partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, American surpluses with Peru (up 96.5%), United Arab Emirates (up 51.3%) and the Netherlands (up 23.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2015.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate United States’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but 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 in 2014 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 Top United States Trade Balances, American Global Technology Companies, United States Top 10 Imports, Highest Value US Import Products and America’s Top 20 Export States
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 11, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 11, 2016
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on November 9, 2015
JOC.com, Top 100 US Exporters. Accessed on November 9, 2015