The United States of America shipped $1.645 trillion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 9.5% increase since 2015 but a -1.2% decline from 2018 to 2019.
America’s exported goods totaled $1.172 trillion during the first 10 months of 2020. Assuming an annualized $1.406 trillion in exports for all 2020, the United States is on track for an estimated -14.5% drop in value for its shipments from 2019 to 2020.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 68% of products exported from the U.S. were bought by importers in: Canada (17.8% of the global total), Mexico (15.6%), China (6.5%), Japan (4.5%), United Kingdom (4.2%), Germany (3.7%), South Korea (3.5%), Netherlands (3.1%), Brazil (2.6%), France (2.4%), Belgium (2.1%) and India (2.1%).
From a continental perspective, 33.4% of United States exports by value was delivered to its fellow North American trade partners. Meanwhile 30.8% was sold to Asian importers with another 22.5% worth of goods going to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (9.7%), Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (1.9%) then Africa (1.6%).
Given America’s population of 329.3 million people, its total $1.645 trillion in revenues from exports in 2019 translates to roughly $5,000 for every U.S. resident.
United States Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in American global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the United States.
- Machinery including computers: US$205.9 billion (12.5% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $199.7 billion (12.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $173.2 billion (10.5%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $136 billion (8.3%)
- Vehicles: $133 billion (8.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $90.8 billion (5.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $64.9 billion (3.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $59.6 billion (3.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $53.6 billion (3.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $39.3 billion (2.4%)
America’s top 10 exports surpass well over two-thirds (70.3%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Pharmaceuticals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 10.8% since 2018. In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil, thanks to a 3.7% gain led by crude petroleum oil. America’s shipments of vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value via a 1.8% increase.
The leading decliner among America’s top 10 export categories was gems and precious metals which fell -6.6%, weighed down by thinner revenues mainly for diamonds and gold.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of America’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
The following types of American product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Aircraft, spacecraft: US$101.1 billion (Down by -6% since 2018)
- Oil seeds: $21.5 billion (Up by 8%)
- Other chemical goods: $16.4 billion (Up by 9.1%)
- Cereals: $14.4 billion (Down by -21.4%)
- Meat: $8.9 billion (Up by 0.6%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $7.1 billion (Down by -9.5%)
- Cotton: $7 billion (Down by -5%)
- Woodpulp: $4.9 billion (Down by -10.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $4.3 billion (Down by -8.1%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $4.1 billion (Up by 13.1%)
United States has highly positive net exports in the international trade of aircraft launching gear and other on-deck landing equipment. In turn, these cashflows indicate America’s strong competitive advantages under the aerospace-related products category.
Overall the U.S. incurred a -$923.2 billion trade deficit for 2019, contracting by -2.4% from the -$946.4 billion deficit for all products one year earlier.
Below are product categories from the United States that are negative net exports or product trade balance deficits for 2018. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on American goods trail U.S. importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$179.1 billion (Down by -6% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$177 billion (Up by 0.7%)
- Machinery including computers: -$173.2 billion (Up by 0.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$74.7 billion (Up by 11%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$57 billion (Down by -7%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$45.3 billion (Up by 1.1%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$37 billion (Up by 1.1%)
- Toys, games: -$27.7 billion (Up by 0.4%)
- Footwear: -$26.6 billion (Up by 2.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: Up by -6.5% (US-$22.4 billion)
United States has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for electronics-related equipment, notably consumer electronics.
The resulting cashflow deficiency clearly exemplifies U.S. competitive disadvantages in the international electronics market, but also represents a key opportunity for United States to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations and creative employment initiatives in the homeland.
American Export Companies
Wikipedia lists many of the larger international trade players from the United States:
- Apple (computer hardware)
- Exxon Mobil (oil, gas)
- Johnson & Johnson (medical equipment, supplies)
- Chevron Corporation (oil, gas)
- Procter & Gamble (household, personal care items)
- Pfizer (pharmaceuticals)
- The Coca-Cola Company (beverages)
- Merck & Co (pharmaceuticals)
- Qualcomm (semiconductors)
- Philip Morris International (tobacco)
- Intel (semiconductors)
- Schlumberger (oil, gas)
- PepsiCo (beverages)
- Cisco Systems (communications equipment)
- Boeing (aerospace)
- ConocoPhillips (oil, gas)
- AbbVie (pharmaceuticals)
- Occidental Petroleum (oil, gas)
- Eli Lilly and Company (pharmaceuticals)
Searchable List of America’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from the United States during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||US Export Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$87,507,951,000||-8.8%|
|6||Phone system devices including smartphones||$30,694,476,000||-5.4%|
|8||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$29,730,849,000||+4.1%|
|9||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$25,863,964,000||+11.7%|
|10||Computers, optical readers||$25,787,214,000||-3.3%|
|11||Medication mixes in dosage||$22,860,432,000||+10.9%|
|16||Computer parts, accessories||$16,683,567,000||-8.9%|
|17||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$15,459,666,000||-15.2%|
|18||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$12,112,171,000||-2.8%|
|21||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$10,449,685,000||-5.2%|
|22||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$10,437,578,000||+1.3%|
|24||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$9,818,834,000||-19.2%|
|25||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$9,483,139,000||-14.7%|
|27||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$9,306,635,000||+1.2%|
|30||Liquid pumps and elevators||$8,312,741,000||-3.6%|
|33||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$7,574,045,000||+4.9%|
|36||Miscellaneous plastic items||$6,913,056,000||-4.4%|
|38||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$6,688,830,000||-12.1%|
|40||Air or vacuum pumps||$6,497,631,000||-6.1%|
|42||Other food preparations||$6,262,750,000||+5.4%|
|43||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$6,228,037,000||+3.2%|
|44||Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)||$6,147,102,000||-6.1%|
|45||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$6,108,252,000||+5.2%|
|47||Piston engine parts||$5,980,999,000||-5.3%|
|48||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$5,962,239,000||-2.1%|
|49||Electrical converters/power units||$5,953,409,000||-5.9%|
|50||Other measuring/testing machines||$5,627,709,000||-6.9%|
|52||Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers||$5,486,870,000||+2.4%|
|53||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$5,486,184,000||-0.9%|
|54||Iron or steel scrap||$5,339,840,000||-9.7%|
|55||Precious metal waste, scrap||$5,239,461,000||+22.5%|
|57||Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps||$5,201,486,000||+6.1%|
|58||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$5,171,792,000||-4.4%|
|59||Chemical industry products/residuals||$5,042,674,000||+4.9%|
|60||Rubber tires (new)||$4,974,755,000||-2.2%|
|63||Unrecorded sound media||$4,851,420,000||-0.9%|
|65||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$4,624,231,000||-5.4%|
|66||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$4,576,950,000||+5.5%|
|67||Bombs, grenades, ammunition||$4,450,087,000||+9.5%|
|68||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$4,396,938,000||+0.9%|
|69||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$4,381,087,000||-8.7%|
|70||Petroleum oil residues||$4,290,810,000||-21.6%|
|71||Electric motors, generators||$4,217,668,000||+4%|
|73||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$4,190,963,000||-18.7%|
|75||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$4,132,995,000||+41.1%|
|80||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$3,949,546,000||-7.1%|
|82||Electric storage batteries||$3,767,086,000||+1.2%|
|85||Vinyl chloride polymers||$3,718,167,000||-5.3%|
|86||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$3,564,603,000||-3.4%|
|88||Fresh or chilled beef||$3,522,349,000||-4.5%|
|89||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$3,469,554,000||+0.7%|
|90||Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues||$3,442,360,000||-13.8%|
|93||Uncoated kraft paper||$3,351,998,000||-19.4%|
|94||Other organic cleaning preparations||$3,338,183,000||-2.9%|
|95||Radar, radio communication items||$3,216,378,000||+13.1%|
|97||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$3,162,738,000||+2.2%|
|98||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$3,137,999,000||-16.2%|
|100||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$3,096,517,000||-1.7%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$1.016 trillion or over three-fifths (61.8%) by value for all products exported from the U.S. during 2019.
In macroeconomic terms, the United States’ total exported goods represent 7.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($21.439 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity U.S. dollars). That 7.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 8.1% for 2018. This seems to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for America’s total economic performance, at least in the short term.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its jobless rate. America’s unemployment rate was 6.7% in November 2020, up from an average 3.892% one year earlier as reported by the International Monetary Fund.
See also United States Top 10 Imports, America’s Top Trading Partners, Top United States Trade Balances 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 December 11, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on December 11, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on December 11, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on December 11, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on December 11, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of United States. Accessed on December 11, 2020