The United States of America imported US$2.568 trillion worth of goods from around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects an 11% gain since 2015 but a -1.7% downtick from 2018 to 2019.
From a continental perspective, 43.4% of America’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from providers in Asia. Fellow North American trade partners supplied 26.8% of import sales to the U.S. while 23.5% worth originated from Europe. At 4.4%, suppliers from Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean accounted for a smaller percentage of American import purchases. Even tinier amounts came from Africa (1.2%) and Oceania (0.6%) led by Australia.
Given America’s population of 329.3 million people, its total $2.568 trillion in 2019 imports translates to roughly $7,800 in yearly product demand from each U.S. resident.
United States Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in America’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into the US.
- Machinery including computers: US$379 billion (14.8% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $352.3 billion (13.7%)
- Vehicles: $310.1 billion (12.1%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $210.1 billion (8.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $128.2 billion (5%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $96.9 billion (3.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: $67.2 billion (2.6%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $60.6 billion (2.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $58.1 billion (2.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $54.5 billion (2.1%)
The above product categories account for two-thirds (66.9%) of total US imports during 2019.
America’s imports of pharmaceuticals had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 10.9% from 2018 to 2019. The other two gaining categories were optical, technical or medical apparatus (up 3.7%) and vehicles (up 1.2%).
Leading the declines was the -13.1% drop in value for mineral fuels including oil, weighed down by lower purchases of crude oil from international purposes.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of America’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product folder tabs.
In 2019, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$91.1 billion (down -2.6% from 2018)
- Turbo-jets: $30.8 billion (up 16.9%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $19.5 billion (down -30.6%)
- Printing machinery: $15.8 billion (down -5.6%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $15.6 billion (down -6.4%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $12 billion (up 0.1%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $11.4 billion (down -3.5%)
- Piston engines: $11.3 billion (down -5.7%)
- Machinery for making semi-conductors: $10.6 billion (up 22.7%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $9.9 billion (up 0.9%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of machinery for making semi-conductors (up 22.7%), turbo-jets (up 16.9%) then transmission shafts, gears and clutches (up 0.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among U.S. businesses and consumers.
In 2019, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic equipment.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$101.9 billion (down -8.4% from 2018)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $33.1 billion (down -4.9%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $23.9 billion (down -2.1%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $21.6 billion (down -2.8%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $15.1 billion (down -1.8%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $13.3 billion (up 6.1%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $11.6 billion (down -2.1%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $11.3 billion (up 27.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $11.2 billion (down -4.7%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $11.1 billion (down -3.2%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of solar power diodes or semi-conductors (up 27.1%) and electrical or optical circuit boards and panels (up 6.1%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among U.S. businesses and consumers.
In 2019, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$179.5 billion (up 0.6% from 2018)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $69.6 billion (down -2.5%)
- Trucks: $33.1 billion (up 14.7%)
- Tractors: $13.5 billion (up 7.6%)
- Trailers: $4.2 billion (down -5.2%)
- Motorcycles: $2.5 billion (down -9.1%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $1.6 billion (up 2.4%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $1.3 billion (up 10.1%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $1.3 billion (down -19.5%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $1.2 billion (up 2.5%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of trucks (up 14.7%), public-transport vehicles (up 10.1%) then tractors (up 7.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among U.S. businesses and consumers.
In 2019, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$132.4 billion (down -18.7% from 2018)
- Processed petroleum oils: $61.9 billion (up 0.7%)
- Petroleum gases: $10.1 billion (down -9.6%)
- Electrical energy: $2 billion (down -12.2%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $1.5 billion (down -10.3%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $561.7 million (up 9.2%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $478.2 million (down -6.7%)
- Peat: $375.6 million (down -1.2%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $347.8 million (down -20.3%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $146.9 million (down -31.6%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 9.2%) and processed petroleum oils (up 0.7%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported energy supplies among U.S. businesses and consumers.
Searchable List of America’s Most Valuable Import Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of America’s most in-demand imported goods during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||US Import Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|3||Phone system devices including smartphones||$101,893,504,000||-8.4%|
|4||Computers, optical readers||$91,142,326,000||-2.6%|
|5||Medication mixes in dosage||$78,878,163,000||+10.1%|
|7||Processed petroleum oils||$61,938,363,000||+0.7%|
|8||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$42,897,133,000||+15.8%|
|12||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$28,016,899,000||+10.7%|
|14||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$24,755,490,000||-5.5%|
|19||Computer parts, accessories||$19,499,377,000||-30.6%|
|21||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$15,568,569,000||-6.4%|
|22||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$15,530,369,000||+1.8%|
|23||Rubber tires (new)||$15,476,108,000||+1.3%|
|24||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$15,387,286,000||+4.3%|
|25||Electrical converters/power units||$15,094,401,000||-1.8%|
|29||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$13,306,765,000||+6.1%|
|30||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$12,912,755,000||+3.4%|
|31||Air or vacuum pumps||$12,042,742,000||+0.1%|
|32||Miscellaneous plastic items||$11,703,523,000||+4.2%|
|33||Unrecorded sound media||$11,637,438,000||-2.1%|
|34||Liquid pumps and elevators||$11,357,649,000||-3.5%|
|36||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$11,317,426,000||+27.1%|
|38||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$11,181,710,000||-4.7%|
|39||Cases, handbags, wallets||$11,138,208,000||-7.3%|
|40||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$11,080,103,000||-3.2%|
|41||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$10,759,901,000||-14.3%|
|42||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$10,582,536,000||+22.7%|
|43||Electric motors, generators||$10,328,441,000||+1.3%|
|44||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$10,219,391,000||-1.4%|
|46||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$9,931,224,000||+0.9%|
|47||Piston engine parts||$9,809,894,000||-2%|
|49||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$9,649,275,000||+2.6%|
|50||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$9,592,058,000||+4.1%|
|51||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$9,542,969,000||+9.2%|
|60||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$8,478,930,000||-0.5%|
|61||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$8,193,716,000||+12.9%|
|62||Electric storage batteries||$8,102,697,000||+3.2%|
|63||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$7,930,511,000||-4.9%|
|64||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$7,911,137,000||-1.6%|
|65||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$7,653,004,000||+4.3%|
|66||Base metal mountings, fittings||$7,546,285,000||-1.2%|
|70||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$6,671,996,000||+1.1%|
|71||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$6,587,082,000||+7.2%|
|72||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$6,559,991,000||+12.1%|
|75||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$6,478,485,000||+11.5%|
|76||Fish fillets, pieces||$6,421,489,000||-4.1%|
|78||Pneumatic hand tool||$6,279,753,000||-0.8%|
|79||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$6,225,673,000||-3.8%|
|81||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$6,163,969,000||+7.8%|
|82||Table games, bowling equipment||$6,082,873,000||-22.6%|
|84||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$5,992,391,000||-0.3%|
|86||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$5,908,188,000||-4.6%|
|87||Other food preparations||$5,866,251,000||+9.7%|
|89||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$5,841,885,000||-3%|
|91||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$5,676,263,000||+0.1%|
|92||Other measuring/testing machines||$5,486,453,000||+1.7%|
|93||Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns||$5,444,443,000||+6.9%|
|94||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$5,120,680,000||-4.8%|
|95||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$5,105,269,000||-1.5%|
|96||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$4,981,011,000||+7.5%|
These 100 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$1.733 trillion or about two-thirds (67.5%) by value for all products imported into the United States during 2019.
See also United States Top 10 Exports, 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 February 6, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 6, 2020