China Leads World Exports While Cars Drive U.S. Exports
With exports reaching $1.45 trillion in 2016, the U.S. is the second largest exporter in the world.
In 2016, U.S. exports increased 37.6 percent versus 2009, near the end of the Great Recession, but dropped 3.3 percent compared to 2015. The nation’s top 10 exports accounted for 68.1 percent of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cars Drive U.S. Exports
At $2.2 trillion, U.S. exports account for 10 percent of all world exports and generate 12 percent of U.S. total economic output as measured by gross domestic product. Cars are driving U.S. exports, accounting for $150 billion in exports during 2016. Below are other top U.S. exports.
Most U.S. exports are capital goods, reaching $519 billion in 2016. Other capital goods include the following:
- Commercial aircraft: $121 billion
- Industrial machines: $51 billion
- Semiconductors: $44 billion
- Telecommunications: $41 billion
- Electric apparatus: $42 billion
- Medical equipment: $35 billion
Another large proportion of the products exported by the U.S. fall in the industrial supplies category with $398 billion in exports. Below are the top five sub-categories:
- Chemicals: $71 billion
- Petroleum products: $51 billion
- Fuel oil: $30 billion
- Plastic: $32 billion
- Non-monetary gold: $20 billion
About 13 percent, or $194 billion, of exported U.S. goods are consumer goods, such as these:
- Pharmaceuticals: $53 billion
- Cell phones: $24 billion
- Gem diamonds: $21 billion
Only 9 percent of exported goods are foods, feeds and beverages, with $131 billion in exports.
In addition to exported goods, in 2016 the U.S. exported $750 billion in services, with most falling in these top five categories:
- Travel services: $293 billion
- Computer and business services: $178 billion
- Royalties and license fees: $120 billion
- Financial services: $120 billion
- Government and military contracts: $20 billion
FURTHER READING: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: 5 MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT EXPORT FINANCING
Top U.S. Exports to Mexico
The U.S. exported 16 percent—$231 billion—of its overall exports to Mexico in 2016, down 2 percent from 2015 but up 73 percent compared to 10 years earlier and a whopping 455 percent since 1993, before the U.S., Canada and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.
Below are the top 10 categories of U.S. exports to Mexico in 2016.
- Machinery: $41.8 billion
- Electronic equipment: $40.7 billion
- Vehicles: $21.4 billion
- Mineral fuels including oil: $20.3 billion
- Plastics: $16.2 billion
- Medical, technical equipment: $7.1 billion
- Live trees and plants: $6.8 billion
- Iron or steel products: $5 billion
- Organic chemicals: $4.5 billion
- Iron and steel: $3.8 billion
Industrial Machinery and Equipment Dominate U.S. Imports
While the world consumes our cars and travel services, what are we consuming from the rest of the world?
- More than 80 percent of U.S. imports, $2.2 trillion in 2016, are goods. Industrial machinery and equipment (IM&E) products top this group with $444 billion in exports.
- Capital goods account for 25 percent of all goods imported at $590 billion, followed by consumer goods ($584 billion) and cars, parts and engines ($350 billion).
- Services make up 19 percent of imports at $502 billion, with travel and transportation services accounting for $219 billion, followed by business and computer services ($139 billion), banking and insurance ($73 billion) and government services ($21 billion).
U.S. Trade Partners
THE LARGEST EXPORTER TO THE U.S. IS CHINA. IN 2016, THE U.S. IMPORTED $462.6 IN GOODS FROM CHINA, MOSTLY COMPUTERS AND OTHER TECH DEVICES.
Mexico came in second with $294 billion, mainly manufactured or assembled goods such as cars, computers and machinery.
Canada follows China and Mexico with $277.8 billion in oil, vehicles and machinery; Japan with $132 billion, chiefly cars; and Germany with $114 billion, mostly cars, machinery and pharmaceuticals.
World’s Top 10 Exporters
In 2016, global export sales reached $15.862 trillion, down 4 percent from the previous year. China continued to be the world’s export leader with $2.11 trillion in exported goods, followed by the European Union with $1.90 trillion, the U.S. with $1.45 trillion and Germany with $1.34 trillion.
- China: $2.11 trillion
- European Union: $1.90 trillion
- United States: $1.45 trillion
- Germany: $1.34 trillion
- Japan: $644.9 billion
- Netherlands: $569.4 billion
- Hong Kong: $516.6 billion
- South Korea: $495.5 billion
- France: $488.9 billion
- Italy: $461.5 billion
The United Kingdom was 11th with $415.9 billion, followed by Belgium ($398 billion), Canada ($388.9 billion), Mexico ($373.9 billion), Singapore ($329.9 billion) and Switzerland ($304.7 billion).
Top 10 Exports in the World
Cars, crude oil and electronic equipment lead the pack.
- Cars: $698.3 billion
- Crude oil: $677.8 billion
- Electronic integrated circuits: $535 billion
- Phone devices including smartphones: $519 billion
- Processed petroleum oils: $504.9 billion
- Automobile parts/accessories: $360.6 billion
- Gold (unwrought): $324.6 billion
- Medication mixes in dosage: $319.4 billion
- Computers, optical readers: $305.6 billion
- Petroleum gases: $176.9 billion
Germany tops the list of car exporting countries with about $151 billion in exports, followed by Japan and the U.S. In the crude oil category, Saudi Arabia leads with $136 billion, followed by Russia and Iraq.
Data Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, International Trade Administration, International Trade Centre, World Trade Organization, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook Rankings.