America’s Top Trading Partners

America's Top Trading Partners

by Flagpictures.org

US President Donald Trump has called into question the merits of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 2017, a third of American exports (34%) were delivered to Canada and Mexico. However, that percentage could change should the NAFTA agreement be dissolved.

The world’s second-largest exporter, the United States shipped US$1.547 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2017. That dollar figure represents an estimated 9.7% of overall global exports estimated at $15.952 trillion based on 2016 statistics that include all countries.

Close behind America’s North American trade partners, Asian importers purchased 32.2% of US shipments while 20.8% worth was delivered to Europe. A smaller percentage of 9.5% went to Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean. Just 1.4% of US shipments were destined for customers in Africa.

America’s Top Trading Partners

Top 15

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 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total American exports.

  1. Canada: US$282.5 billion (18.3% of total US exports)
  2. Mexico: $243 billion (15.7%)
  3. China: $130.4 billion (8.4%)
  4. Japan: $67.7 billion (4.4%)
  5. United Kingdom: $56.3 billion (3.6%)
  6. Germany: $53.5 billion (3.5%)
  7. South Korea: $48.3 billion (3.1%)
  8. Netherlands: $42.2 billion (2.7%)
  9. Hong Kong: $40 billion (2.6%)
  10. Brazil: $37.1 billion (2.4%)
  11. France: $34.2 billion (2.2%)
  12. Belgium: $29.9 billion (1.9%)
  13. Singapore: $29.8 billion (1.9%)
  14. Taiwan: $25.8 billion (1.7%)
  15. India: $25.7 billion (1.7%)

Almost three-quarters (74.1%) of American exports in 2017 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.

Thirteen of the top 15 trading partners upped their purchases of American exports from 2016 to 2017. Leading the increases were Brazil (up 23.2%), India (up 18.7%), Hong Kong (up 14.8%), South Korea (up 14.1%) and China (up 12.8%).
There were two declines, -1.1% for Taiwan and -6.8% for Belgium.

Deficits

America incurred a -$862.7 million trade deficit in 2017, up 8.1% from the -$797.8 billion negative balance during 2016.

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:

  1. China: -US$395.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2017)
  2. Mexico: -$74 billion
  3. Japan: -$72.2 billion
  4. Germany: -$66.7 billion
  5. Vietnam: -$40.3 billion
  6. Ireland: -$38.3 billion
  7. Italy: -$33.1 billion
  8. Malaysia: -$25.3 billion
  9. India: -$24.9 billion
  10. South Korea: -$24.9 billion

Among America’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, US deficits with Vietnam (up 19.6%), Italy (up 10.6%) and Mexico (up 10.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017. America’s largest country-specific deficit is with China, which expanded by 8.2% year over year.

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.

Surpluses

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:

  1. Hong Kong: US$32.3 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2017)
  2. Netherlands: $23.8 billion
  3. United Arab Emirates: $15.5 billion
  4. Belgium: $14.4 billion
  5. Australia: $14.3 billion
  6. Singapore: $10.1 billion
  7. Brazil: $6.5 billion
  8. Panama: $6 billion
  9. Argentina: $4.5 billion
  10. Dominican Republic: $2.9 billion

Among America’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, US surpluses with Brazil (up 114.7%), Argentina (up 25.6%) and Hong Kong (up 18.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate United States’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

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.

  1. Koch Industries (recovered wastepaper, plastic scrap, animal feeds)
  2. International Paper (paper, packaging)
  3. DeLong (animal feed, grain)
  4. Denison International (recyclable paper)
  5. DuPont (diversified chemicals)
  6. MeadWestvaco/RockTenn (paper, packaging)
  7. Sims Metal Management (recycled metals, electronics)
  8. Newport CH International (recycled paper, metals, plastics)
  9. 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

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 7, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 7, 2018

Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on November 9, 2015

JOC.com, Top 100 US Exporters. Accessed on November 9, 2015