From a continental perspective, 45.1% of America’s total imports by value in 2020 were purchased from providers in Asia. Fellow North American trade partners supplied 25.2% of import sales to the U.S. while 23.9% worth originated from Europe. At 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%) and Oceania (0.8%) led by Australia.
Given America’s population of 330 million people, its total $2.408 trillion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $7,300 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into the US.
- Machinery including computers: US$361.6 billion (15% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $343.5 billion (14.3%)
- Vehicles: $254.4 billion (10.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $139.5 billion (5.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $130.1 billion (5.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $107 billion (4.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $90.9 billion (3.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $65.5 billion (2.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $62.5 billion (2.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $55.9 billion (2.3%)
The above product categories account for two-thirds (66.9%) of total US imports during 2020.
America’s imports of gems and precious metals posted the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 product categories, up 84.2% from 2019 to 2020. Three other top gaining categories were pharmaceuticals (up 8.8%), plastics materials and items made from plastic (up 3.1%) and organic chemicals (up 2.4%).
Leading the declines was the -38.1% drop in cost for mineral fuels including oil, weighed down by lower purchases of crude oil from international purposes. Other major declines were for imported vehicles (down -17.9%) and optical, technical and medical apparatus (down -6.2%).
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 2020, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$104.9 billion (up 15.1% from 2019)
- Computer parts, accessories: $23.8 billion (up 22%)
- Turbo-jets: $19.7 billion (down -35.8%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $13.2 billion (down -15.2%)
- Printing machinery: $12.8 billion (down -18.9%)
- Air or vacuum pumps: $11.3 billion (down -6.5%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $10.9 billion (up 13.9%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $10.5 billion (up 9%)
- Piston engines: $10.1 billion (down -10.7%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $9.8 billion (down -13.6%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of computer parts or accessories (up 22%), computers including optical readers (up 15.1%) then refrigerators and freezers (up 13.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronic equipment.
- Phone system devices: US$95.2 billion (down -6.6% from 2019)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $31.9 billion (down -3.6%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $22.2 billion (down -7%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $19.5 billion (down -10.1%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $16.1 billion (up 7%)
- Unrecorded sound media: $15.1 billion (up 29.7%)
- Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $13.2 billion (up 16.8%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $12.4 billion (down -6.5%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $11 billion (down -1.1%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $10.1 billion (down -9.6%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of unrecorded sound media (up 29.7%), solar power diodes or semi-conductors (up 16.8%) and electrical converters or power units: (up 7%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, American importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$145.7 billion (down -18.9% from 2019)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $60 billion (down -13.8%)
- Trucks: $26 billion (down -21.4%)
- Tractors: $9.9 billion (down -26.4%)
- Trailers: $3.6 billion (down -15.5%)
- Motorcycles: $2.8 billion (up 11.6%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $1.5 billion (up 16.6%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $1.5 billion (down -7.9%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $906.4 million (down -21.6%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $687.4 million (down -48.4%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of bicycles and other non-motorized cycles (up 16.6%) and motorcycles (up 11.6%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
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 2020, American importers spent the most on the following subcategories of pharmaceuticals.
- Medication mixes in dosage: US$81.9 billion (up 3.8% from 2019)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): $51.4 billion (up 19.8%)
- Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods: $3.6 billion (down -16%)
- Packaged dressings: $1.4 billion (up 9.7%)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: $942.2 million (up 95.4%)
- Dried organs, heparin: $369.8 million (down -19.9%)
Among these import subcategories, US purchases of medication mixes not in dosage (up 95.4%), blood fractions (including antisera) (up 19.8%) then packaged dressings (up 9.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported pharmaceuticals among U.S. businesses and consumers.
Searchable List of America’s Most Valuable Import Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of America’s most in-demand imported goods during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||US Import Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Computers, optical readers||$104,948,207,000||+15.1%|
|3||Phone system devices including smartphones||$102,547,452,000||+0.6%|
|4||Medication mixes in dosage||$95,175,568,000||+20.7%|
|7||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$60,037,381,000||+40%|
|8||Processed petroleum oils||$51,376,633,000||-17.1%|
|11||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$31,910,037,000||+13.9%|
|12||Other precious metal items||$27,574,709,000||+1,611%|
|15||Computer parts, accessories||$25,819,663,000||+32.4%|
|16||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$23,787,205,000||-3.9%|
|18||Miscellaneous articles, dress patterns||$22,209,947,000||+307.9%|
|21||Electrical converters/power units||$19,467,608,000||+29%|
|22||Unrecorded sound media||$16,145,717,000||+38.7%|
|23||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$15,099,264,000||-1.9%|
|25||Miscellaneous plastic items||$14,262,139,000||+21.9%|
|26||Rubber tires (new)||$14,246,127,000||-7.9%|
|28||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$13,824,866,000||+22.2%|
|29||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$13,215,513,000||-15.1%|
|31||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$12,822,265,000||-0.7%|
|33||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$12,474,890,000||-6.3%|
|35||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$11,988,668,000||-22.8%|
|37||Air or vacuum pumps||$11,289,476,000||-6.3%|
|38||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$11,261,191,000||+1.6%|
|40||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$10,854,034,000||+13.2%|
|41||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$10,458,450,000||-6.5%|
|43||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$10,100,656,000||+4.7%|
|44||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$10,038,755,000||-6.7%|
|46||Liquid pumps and elevators||$9,910,014,000||-12.7%|
|48||Electric storage batteries||$9,662,007,000||+19.2%|
|49||Electric motors, generators||$9,468,712,000||-8.3%|
|51||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$8,946,850,000||-6.2%|
|57||Cases, handbags, wallets||$8,453,228,000||-24.1%|
|59||Table games, bowling equipment||$8,313,403,000||+36.7%|
|60||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$8,224,788,000||-17.2%|
|61||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$8,191,620,000||+3.3%|
|62||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$8,138,353,000||-23.1%|
|63||Piston engine parts||$8,108,264,000||-17.3%|
|65||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$7,700,812,000||+0.6%|
|66||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$7,699,961,000||-24.7%|
|70||Base metal mountings, fittings||$7,137,366,000||-5.4%|
|71||Pneumatic hand tool||$7,064,640,000||+12.5%|
|73||Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry||$6,973,439,000||+7.6%|
|74||Other food preparations||$6,655,441,000||+13.5%|
|75||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$6,562,263,000||-1.6%|
|76||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$6,534,653,000||+6%|
|77||Miscellaneous engines, motors||$6,445,396,000||-1.7%|
|78||Fish fillets, pieces||$6,395,964,000||-0.4%|
|80||Garments from special fabric (not knit or crochet)||$5,977,473,000||+172.8%|
|83||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$5,883,811,000||-30.6%|
|85||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$5,677,018,000||-30.7%|
|86||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$5,599,008,000||-10.1%|
|89||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$5,496,860,000||+10.4%|
|90||Other diagnostic/lab reagents||$5,415,308,000||+35.4%|
|92||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$5,310,813,000||+4%|
|93||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$5,258,980,000||-20.2%|
|94||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$5,092,289,000||-12.8%|
|95||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$5,073,308,000||+26.1%|
|96||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$5,018,474,000||-11.6%|
|98||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$4,981,479,000||-15.7%|
|99||Other measuring/testing machines||$4,962,152,000||-9.6%|
These 100 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$1.721 trillion or 71.5% by value for all products imported into the United States during 2020.
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 11, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 11, 2021