United States Top 10 Exports

United States Top 10 Exports

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America shipped US$1.547 trillion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That amount represents a 6.6% uptick from 2016 to 2017 but a -2% decrease since 2013.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, exported goods plus services supplied by the United States represent 12.2% of total American economic output or Gross Domestic Product. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Given America’s population of 326.6 million people, its total $1.547 trillion in 2017 export revenue translates to roughly $4,700 for every resident in the United States.

America’s unemployment rate was 4.1% as of January 2018 — a healthy improvement from the 4.8% jobless rate as reported by Trading Economics 12 months earlier.

United States Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in American global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from the United States at the two-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

At the more granular four-digit HTS level, America’s top export products are refined petroleum oils followed by cars, automotive parts and accessories, electronic integrated circuits then mobile phones.

  1. Machinery including computers: US$201.7 billion (13% of total exports)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $174.2 billion (11.3%)
  3. Mineral fuels including oil: $138 billion (8.9%)
  4. Aircraft, spacecraft: $131.2 billion (8.5%)
  5. Vehicles: $130.1 billion (8.4%)
  6. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $83.6 billion (5.4%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $61.5 billion (4%)
  8. Gems, precious metals: $60.4 billion (3.9%)
  9. Pharmaceuticals: $45.1 billion (2.9%)
  10. Organic chemicals: $36.2 billion (2.3%)

America’s top 10 exports accounted for over two-thirds (69.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Among the top 10 export categories year over year, mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-growing U.S. shipment via its 47.3% value gain from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for improving export sales were organic chemicals which rose 6.6%.

America’s exported machinery including computers appreciated by 5.8% year over year.

There were two decliners among America’s top 10 export categories in 2017 compared to 2016: aircraft and spacecraft (down -2.7%) and pharmaceuticals (down -4.1%).


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.

  1. Aircraft, spacecraft: US$100.3 billion (Down by -3.3% since 2016)
  2. Oil seeds: $24 billion (Down by -4.8%)
  3. Cereals: $16.2 billion (Down by -2.8%)
  4. Other chemical goods: $13.9 billion (Up by 20.9%)
  5. Meat: $8.2 billion (Up by 21.4%)
  6. Cotton: $6.7 billion (Up by 42.4%)
  7. Food industry waste, animal fodder: $6.7 billion (Down by -5.8%)
  8. Plastics, plastic articles: $6.6 billion (Down by -20%)
  9. Woodpulp: $5.6 billion (Up by 5.9%)
  10. Soaps, washing preparations, lubricants, waxes: $3.8 billion (Up by 1.7%)

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 product category.


Overall, the US compiled a -$862.7 billion trade deficit for 2017 expanding by 8.1% from the -$797.8 billion deficit for all products one year earlier during 2016.

Below are exports from the United States that are negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on American goods trail U.S. importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: -US$182.5 billion (Up by 8.2% since 2016)
  2. Vehicles: -$164.5 billion (Up by 2.6%)
  3. Machinery including computers: -$147.5 billion (Up by 18.2%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: -$66.2 billion (Down by -4.7%)
  5. Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$56.5 billion (Up by 8.3%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$51.4 billion (Up by 12.8%)
  7. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$43.1 billion (Up by 0.7%)
  8. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$35.6 billion (Down by -1.9%)
  9. Toys, games: -$25.8 billion (Up by 6.6%)
  10. Footwear: -$25.2 billion (Up by 0.05%)

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 US 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)

America’s capital city is Washington, D.C.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also United States Top 10 Major Export Companies, American Global Technology Companies, America’s Top Import Partners, Top United States Trade Balances, Highest Value US Export Products and America’s Top 20 Export States

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 7, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 7, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on February 7, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 9, 2016

Wikipedia, List of Companies of United States. Accessed on February 9, 2016