Petroleum gases, soya beans, refined petroleum oils, integrated circuits and machinery for making semi-conductors are counterbalancing drivers behind the highest positive trade balances for the United States during 2020.
America enjoyed the highest per-country trade surpluses in 2020 at the expense of Netherlands, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Brazil. Copious amounts of red ink still result from US trade with China, Mexico and Vietnam.
Top US Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 leading products generated a surplus subtotal of $114.6 billion for US in its global trade during 2020. Metrics listed below highlight US’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners by product.
- Petroleum gases: US$26.1 billion surplus (Reversing a -$749 billion deficit in 2013)
- Soya beans: $25.6 billion (Up 22.8% since 2013)
- Processed petroleum oils: $24.4 billion (Up 4.8%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $12.3 billion (Up 141.1%)
- Machinery for making semi-conductors: $11.5 billion (Up 262.6%)
- Corn: $9.2 billion (Up 77.7%)
- Ethylene polymers: $7.2 billion (Up 96.3%)
- Miscellaneous nuts: $6.9 billion (Up 5.2%)
- Cotton (uncarded, uncombed): $6 billion (Up 6.8%)
- Wheat: $5.9 billion (Down -38%)
America’s exported petroleum gases went from red ink in 2013 to a significant surplus for 2020.
Among categories that increased by positive percentage amounts, machinery for making semi-conductors (up 262.6%), Integrated circuits or microassemblies (up 141.1%), ethylene polymers (up 96.3%) then corn (up 77.7%) improved at the fastest rate over the 7-year period.
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$458.5 billion for the US in international trade for 2020. America has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Cars: -US$100 billion (Up 1.9% since 2013)
- Computers, optical readers: -$80.2 billion (Up 41.7%)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$67.1 billion (Up 14.5%)
- Medication mixes in dosage: -$58.8 billion (Up 144.2%)
- Crude oil: -$31.3 billion (Down -88.6%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$26.9 billion (Up 70.7%)
- Other precious metal items: -$25.4 billion (Up 2,747%)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): -$25.3 billion (Reversing a $750.2 million surplus)
- Miscellaneous furniture: -$23.4 billion (Up 52.4%)
- Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs): -$20.2 billion (Up 28.4%)
America’s red ink in global trade expanded over the 7-year period at the fastest rate for the following products: other precious metal items (up 2,747%), medication mixes in dosage (up 144.2%), automobile parts and accessories (up 70.7%) then miscellaneous furniture (up 52.4%).
In 2020, the US generated a surplus subtotal worth $88.5 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- Netherlands: US$17.3 billion (Down -23.3% since 2013)
- Hong Kong: $16 billion (Down -56.3%)
- United Arab Emirates: $11.5 billion (Down -47.8%)
- Brazil: $10.6 billion (Down -31.2%)
- Australia: $8.8 billion (Down -47.9%)
- United Kingdom: $7.9 billion (Reversing a -$6.4 billion deficit in 2013))
- Belgium: $6.3 billion (Down -50.1%)
- Panama: $5.1 billion (Down -49.9%)
- Bahamas: $2.6 billion (Down -8.8%)
- Egypt: $2.5 billion (Down -29.4%)
From 2013 to 2020 and on a percentage basis, US surpluses declined for all above trade partners but at the slowest pace with: the Bahamas (down -8.8%), Netherlands (down -23.3%), Egypt (down -29.4%) and Brazil (down -29.4%).
America also went from a billion-dollar trade deficit with the UK in 2013 to a healthy surplus in 2020.
America experienced a money-losing international trade relationship with about 95 countries. The following 10 trade partners created a collective -$849.5 billion deficit subtotal in 2020 from buying and selling exported and imported goods.
- China: -US$332.5 billion (Down -1.4% since 2013)
- Mexico: -$116.2 billion (Up 103.6%)
- Vietnam: -$73.2 billion (Up 250.9%)
- Germany: -$59.6 billion (Down -14.3%)
- Japan: -$58.4 billion (Down -24.1%)
- Switzerland: -$57.5 billion (Up 2,423%)
- Ireland: -$56.2 billion (Up 124.9%)
- Malaysia: -$32.8 billion (Up 119%)
- Taiwan: -$32 billion (Up 131.2%)
- Italy: -$31.1 (Up 34.5%)
Leading growth in the percentage size of America’s country-specific deficits since 2013 were Switzerland (up 2,423%), Vietnam (up 250.9%), Taiwan (up 131.2%) and Mexico (up 124.9%).
The US reduced their country-specific deficits with three of these trade partners namely: Japan (down -24.1%), Germany (down -14.3%) and China (down -1.4%).
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 11, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 11, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 11, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 11, 2021
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 11, 2021