The world’s second-largest exporter, the United States shipped US$1.454 trillion worth of products around the globe in 2016. That figure represents roughly 9% of overall global exports estimated at $16.236 trillion based on 2015 statistics.
From a continental perspective, 34.2% of America’s total exports by value in 2016 were delivered to other North American trade partners.
Asian importers purchased 32% of American shipments while 21.2% worth arrived in Europe. A smaller percentage of 9.3% went to Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean.
America’s 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 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total American exports.
- Canada: US$266 billion (18.3% of total American exports)
- Mexico: $231 billion (15.9%)
- China: $115.8 billion (8%)
- Japan: $63.3 billion (4.4%)
- United Kingdom: $55.4 billion (3.8%)
- Germany: $49.4 billion (3.4%)
- South Korea: $42.3 billion (2.9%)
- Netherlands: $40.4 billion (2.8%)
- Hong Kong: $34.9 billion (2.4%)
- France: $32.4 billion (2.2%)
- Belgium: $32.3 billion (2.2%)
- Brazil: $30.3 billion (2.1%)
- Singapore: $26.9 billion (1.8%)
- Taiwan: $26 billion (1.8%)
- Switzerland: $22.7 billion (1.6%)
Almost three-quarters (73.5%) of American exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
All top 15 trading partners upped their purchases of American exports from 2009 to 2016. Leading the increases were Mexico (up 79%%), China (up 66.4%), Hong Kong (up 65.3%), Belgium (up 49.2%) and South Korea (up 47.6%). The mildest improvements in US export sales were to Germany (up 14.2%) and Brazil (up 15.7%).
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 2016, United States incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$366 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- Japan: -$72 billion
- Germany: -$67.1 billion
- Mexico: -$65.9 billion
- Ireland: -$36.1 billion
- Vietnam: -$33.6 billion
- Italy: -$29.8 billion
- South Korea: -$29.7 billion
- India: -$26 billion
- Malaysia: -$25.5 billion
Among United States trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, American deficits with India (up 366.2%), Vietnam (up 238.6%), South Korea (up 149.2%), Germany (up 128%) and Italy (up 98.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
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 2016, United States incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Hong Kong: US$27.4 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2016)
- Netherlands: $23.7 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $18.8 billion
- Belgium: $14.8 billion
- Australia: $12.4 billion
- Singapore: $8.8 billion
- Panama: $5.7 billion
- Qatar: $3.7 billion
- Argentina: $3.7 billion
- Chile: $3.4 billion
Among United States import partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, American surpluses with Argentina (up 156.8%), Belgium (up 94%), United Arab Emirates (up 78.7%), Qatar (up 71.2%) and Hong Kong (up 57%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
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 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 10, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 10, 2017
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on November 9, 2015
JOC.com, Top 100 US Exporters. Accessed on November 9, 2015