What is America's Biggest Trading Partner?
The U.S. has run a trade deficit since the 1970s. That means that as a whole, for the past five decades the U.S. has imported more goods from other countries than it has exported to other countries. However, at a more granular level, the U.S. has a trade surplus with some trading partners and a trade deficit with others. Our new series of visualizations illustrates the trade balance between the U.S. and other countries.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. has a trade balance of -$853 million, which means that its overall imports are higher than its exports.
- Between imports and exports, the U.S. is involved in $4.1 trillion worth of trade worldwide (goods only).
- Although the US trade deficit shrank slightly in 2019 (due in large part to the trade war with China), it's still bigger than when Trump took office.
The data for each map comes from the U.S. Census Bureau and all values are expressed in U.S. dollars. Overall, the U.S. exported $1.6 trillion worth of goods to other countries in 2019. The visualization above only shows countries to which the U.S. exported more than $1 billion in goods. In addition, the size and the color of each country on the map indicate which received the most U.S. exports. Countries that are larger and a darker shade of blue had a higher value of exports.
Top Countries Where the U.S. Exports the Most
1. Canada: $293 billion
2. Mexico: $256 billion
3. China: $107 billion
4. Japan: $75 billion
5. United Kingdom: $69 billion
In general, countries in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia received the most U.S. exports. Interestingly, the top five countries alone account for about half of U.S. exports.
By contrast, the U.S. imports $2.5 trillion worth of goods from other countries. Like the previous visualization, the size and the color of each country on the map illustrate the volume of trade between the U.S. and that country. The U.S. has imported the most goods from the countries on the map that are larger and a darker shade of red.
Top Countries from Where the U.S. Imports the Most
1. China: $452 billion
2. Mexico: $358 billion
3. Canada: $320 billion
4. Japan: $144 billion
5. Germany: $127 billion
Despite the trade war that has been raging between the U.S. and China since 2018, the U.S. still imports almost half a trillion dollars worth of goods from China. When combined, goods from China, Mexico, Canada, and Japan account for more than half of U.S. imports.
The map above shows countries that have a trade balance with U.S. worth $1 billion or more. Countries are represented in blue if the U.S. exports more to those countries than those countries export to the U.S. By contrast, countries are represented in red if the U.S. imports more from those countries than those countries import from U.S.. The size of the countries also corresponds to the value of the U.S. trade balance with those countries --bigger countries have a higher trade balance.
Top 5 Countries Where the U.S. Has a Positive Trade Balance
1. Hong Kong: $26 billion
2. Netherlands: $21 billion
3. United Arab Emirates: $16 billion
4. Australia: $15 billion
5. Belgium: $15 billion
Top 5 Countries Where the U.S. Has a Negative Trade Balance
1. China: -$346 billion
2. Mexico: -$102 billion
3. Japan: -$69 billion
4. Germany:-$67 billion
5. Vietnam: -$56 billion
Overall, the U.S. has a trade surplus with 127 countries (28 of which have a trade surplus of more than $1 billion) and a trade deficit with 97 countries (42 of which have a trade deficit of more than $1 billion). Although the U.S. trade deficit shrank slightly in 2019 (due in large part to the trade war with China), it's still bigger than when Trump took office.
Notably, the U.S. balance of trade is highly responsive to other political, economic, and social events happening around the world. For example, everywhere we look we see the headlines talking about the coronavirus and its impact on tourism, trade, and investment between China and the West — and China and the U.S., in particular. In addition, the UK’s recent departure from the EU will necessitate new trade deals between the island nation and its trading partners in Europe and elsewhere. With so much change happening with the United States’s major trading partners, it is likely that next year’s trade balance will undergo some changes, too.
Given recent events ranging from the U.S.-China trade deal, Brexit, and the rise of coronavirus, how do you think the balance of trade will shift in 2020? Let us know in the comments!