United States top 10 imports accounted for two-thirds (66.8%) of the overall value of American product purchases from other countries.
US imports represent 13.7% of the estimated $16.473 trillion in total global imports for 2015.
From a continental perspective, 45.7% of America’s total imports by value in 2016 were purchased from Asian countries.
North American trade partners supplied 25.8% of import sales to the US while 21.5% worth originated from Europe. Importers in Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean make a smaller percentage of important purchases at 5%.
Given America’s population of 324 million people, its total $2.252 trillion in 2016 imports translates to roughly $6,900 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.
United States Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in America’s import purchases during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into the US.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$336 billion (14.9% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $315.4 billion (14%)
- Vehicles: $285 billion (12.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $163.4 billion (7.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $92.5 billion (4.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $80.8 billion (3.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $67.3 billion (3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $63.1 billion (2.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $50.4 billion (2.2%)
- Organic chemicals: $49.8 billion (2.2%)
America’s imported vehicles had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 113.7% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.
In second place for expanding import purchases was furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefab buildings up 94.5% led by seats, lamps and lighting fixtures.
American imports of gems and precious metals delivered the third-fastest gain at 80.9% led by diamonds, gold, jewelry and silver.
Mineral fuels including oil was the laggard among the top 10 American imports, posting a -41.5% decline in value driven by major reductions in the value of imported crude oil, petroleum gas and coal.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under other virtual folder tabs is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2016, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic equipment:
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$104.9 billion (up 76.8%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $30.8 billion (up 86.3%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $23.4 billion (down -30.2%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $19.4 billion (up 117.2%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $14.2 billion (up 43.9%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $13.9 billion (up 191.9%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $10.6 billion (down -1.9%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $10.6 billion (up 136.8%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $10.5 billion (up 76.2%)
- Electric motors, generators: $9 billion (up 78.8%)
Among these import subcategories, America’s purchases of solar power diodes and semi-conductors (up 191.9%), electrical/optical circuit boards or panels (up 136.8%) and insulated wire or cable (up 117.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among US businesses and consumers.
In 2016, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery:
- Computers, optical readers: US$77.7 billion (up 43%)
- Turbo-jets: $21.9 billion (up 53.6%)
- Printing machinery: $17.3 billion (down -6.5%)
- Computer parts, accessories: $16.3 billion (down -14.2%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $13.8 billion (up 76.6%)
- Piston engines: $11.1 billion (up 108.2%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $10.3 billion (up 78.3%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $9.6 billion (up 82.4%)
- Piston engine parts: $9.3 billion (up 80.9%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $8.7 billion (up 84.2%)
Among US machinery purchases, American imports of piston engines (up 108.2%), refrigerators and freezers (up 84.2%), liquid pumps and elevators (up 82.4%) and piston engine parts (up 80.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among US businesses and consumers.
In 2016, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles:
- Cars: US$173.3 billion (up 110.8%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $66.6 billion (up 122.8%)
- Trucks: $25.2 billion (up 216.9%)
- Tractors: $8.2 billion (up 85.8%)
- Trailers: $3.1 billion (up 212.8%)
- Motorcycles: $2.1 billion (up 13.5%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $1.5 billion (up 32.8%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $1.4 billion (up 25.2%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $967.9 million (up 66.9%)
- Automobile bodies: $923.9 million (up 49.8%)
Among these import subcategories, America’s purchases of trucks (up 216.9%), trailers (up 212.8%) and automobile parts or accessories (up 122.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among US businesses and consumers.
In 2016, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of fuel:
- Crude oil: US$108.1 billion (down -46.1%)
- Processed petroleum oils: $41.2 billion (down -24.6%)
- Petroleum gases: $8.9 billion (down -50.1%)
- Electrical energy: $2.2 billion (up 6.8%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $805.1 million (up 23.5%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $697.4 million (down -57%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $487.5 million (up 18.1%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $414.2 million (down -43.7%)
- Peat: $341.2 million (up 36.7%)
- Tar pitch, coke: $76.5 million (up 59.1%)
Among these import subcategories, America’s purchases of tar pitch and coke (up 59.1%), peat (up 36.7%) and petroleum oil residues (up 23.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported energy supplies among US businesses and consumers.
See also America’s Top Trading Partners, Top United States Trade Balances and Highest Value US Import Products
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed February 10, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 10, 2017