The overall US trade balance for all products totaled -US$923.2 billion in red ink for 2019. That trade deficit reflects a -2.4% reduction from the -$946.4 billion negative score for 2018 but a 16.9% expansion from -$789.7 billion in 2012.
Refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases, soya beans, coal and corn are counterbalancing drivers behind the highest positive trade balances for the United States during 2019.
America enjoyed the highest per-country trade surpluses in 2019 at the expense of Hong Kong, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Australia. Copious amounts of red ink still result from US trade with China, Japan and Mexico.
Top US Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 leading products generated a surplus subtotal of $116 billion for US in its global trade during 2019. Metrics listed below highlight US’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners by product.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$25.6 billion (Up 145.3% since 2012)
- Petroleum gases: $20.4 billion (Reversing a -$3.3 billion deficit)
- Soya beans: $18.4 billion (Down -24.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $9.3 billion (Down -33.5%)
- Corn: $7.6 billion (Down -11.7%)
- Gold (unwrought): $7.5 billion (Down -57.9%)
- Miscellaneous nuts: $7.3 billion (Up 31.5%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $7 billion (Up 2.6%)
- Ethylene polymers: $6.8 billion (Up 88.4%)
- Cotton (uncarded, uncombed): $6.1 billion (Down -1.2%)
America’s exported petroleum gases went from red ink in 2012 to a significant surplus for 2019.
Among categories that increased by positive percentage amounts, processed petroleum oils (up 145.3%), ethylene polymers (up 88.4%) then miscellaneous nuts (up 31.5%) improved at the fastest rate over the 7-year period.
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$494.1 billion for the US in international trade for 2019. America has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Cars: -US$123.4 billion (Up 30.2% since 2012)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$71.2 billion (Up 35.5%)
- Crude oil: -$67 billion (Down -79%)
- Computers, optical readers: -$65.4 billion (Up 12.7%)
- Medication mixes in dosage: -$56 billion (Up 144.9%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$26.6 billion (Up 63%)
- Miscellaneous furniture: -$22.7 billion (Up 57.5%)
- Turbo-jets: -$21.4 billion (Up 142.4%)
- Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs): -$20.8 billion (Up 41.5%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: -$19.7 billion (Down -24.5%)
America’s red ink in global trade expanded over the 7-year period at the fastest rate for the following products: medication mixes in dosage (up 144.9%), turbo-jets (up 142.4%), automobile parts and accessories (up 63%) then miscellaneous furniture (up 57.5%).
Two of the listed trade products reduced in deficit size since 2012. America’s negative trade balance for crude oil fell by -41.5% while TV receivers, monitors and projectors dropped -24.5%.
In 2019, the US generated a surplus subtotal worth $123.5 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Hong Kong: US$26 billion (Down -18.4% since 2012)
- Netherlands: $20.3 billion (Up 14.8%)
- United Arab Emirates: $15.5 billion (Down -23.5%)
- Australia: $14.9 billion (Down -30.6%)
- Belgium: $14.1 billion (Up 20.2%)
- Brazil: $11 billion (Up 4.6%)
- Panama: $7.3 billion (Down -21.7%)
- United Kingdom: $4.9 billion (Reversing a -$1.2 billion deficit)
- Singapore: $4.87 billion (Down -51.4%)
- Qatar: $4.7 billion (Up 85.3%)
From 2012 to 2019 and on a percentage basis, the US grew its trade surpluses with four trade partners namely: Qatar (up 85.3%), Belgium (up 20.2%), Netherlands (up 14.8%) and Brazil (up 4.6%).
America also went from a billion-dollar trade deficit with the UK in 2012 to a health surplus in 2019.
The greatest declines over the 7-year period belong to Singapore (down -51.4%), Australia (down -30.6%) and the United Arab Emirates (down -23.5%).
America experienced a money-losing international trade relationship with 98 countries (islands or territories). The following 10 trade partners created a massive -$849.7 billion deficit subtotal in 2019 from buying and selling exported and imported goods.
- China: -US$365.8 billion (Up 9.6% since 2012)
- Mexico: -$105 billion (Up 63.8%)
- Japan: -$72.3 billion (Down -10.1%)
- Germany: -$69.6 billion (Up 10.6%)
- Vietnam: -$58.5 billion (Up 249.3%)
- Ireland: -$53 billion (Up 102.8%)
- Italy: -$34.9 billion (Up 58.2%)
- Canada: -$34.8 billion (Down -0.5%)
- Malaysia: -$28.4 billion (Up 105.1%)
- Switzerland: -$27.5 billion (Reversing a $152.1 million surplus)
Leading growth in the percentage size of America’s country-specific deficits since 2012 were Vietnam (up 249.3%), Malaysia (up 105.1%), Ireland (up 102.8%) and Mexico (up 63.8%). The US went from black to red ink in its trade with Switzerland.
Two declines over the 7-year timeframe were the -10.1% reduction trading with Japan and the tiny -0.5% decrease via Canada.
See also United States Top 10 Imports, America’s Top Trading Partners, United States Top 10 Exports and America’s Top 20 Export States and United States Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on February 7, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 7, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 7, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 7, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 7, 2020