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USITC Releases Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2017

October 5, 2018
News Release 18-119
Inv. No. 332-345
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
USITC Releases Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2017

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2017 (2017 Trade Shifts) is now available on the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Internet site.

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, produces its web-based comprehensive review of U.S. trade performance annually.

2017 Trade Shifts includes interactive features, such as graphics that allow users to view and refine, as they choose, the official government data presented.  The report:

  • identifies changes in U.S. exports and imports of agricultural and manufactured goods, as well as key natural resources, providing industry and market profiles and trade data for 10 sectors;

  • analyzes changes in U.S. bilateral trade with Canada, China, Mexico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom; and

  • concludes with a special topic section, "Intermediate Goods Imports in Key U.S. Manufacturing Sectors," which examines the impact that intermediate goods have had on U.S. sectoral trade flows.

Highlights from the report include:

  • U.S. total exports increased by $95.7 billion (6.6 percent) from 2016 levels to $1,546.7 billion in 2017. The primary reasons for the increase were rising crude petroleum prices and depreciation of the U.S. dollar relative to all of its trading partners. Exports increased in all 10 industry sectors discussed in this report.

  • U.S. general imports increased by $155 billion (7.1 percent) from 2016 levels to $2,342.9 billion in 2017.  As with U.S. exports, energy-related products experienced the largest increase by value, with imports of these products rising by $40.3 billion (25.5 percent) to $198 billion. Imports from all remaining sectors rose, with the greatest increases by value occurring in electronic products (by $34.3 billion, 7.6 percent); minerals and metals (by $17.2 billion, 9.4 percent), machinery (by $16.9 billion, 9.4 percent); and transportation equipment (by $16.6 billion, 4 percent).

  • One of the major factors affecting U.S. trade in 2017 was the increase in the price of crude petroleum.  Higher international prices for crude petroleum (Brent spot price) increased the value of U.S. trade in crude petroleum, petroleum products, and petrochemicals. U.S. crude petroleum also traded at a larger average discount compared to the international price per barrel in 2017, spurring greater U.S. export volumes for crude petroleum and downstream products.

    Another factor contributing to the increase of exports of U.S. crude was the removal of the U.S. government ban on most exports of U.S. crude to countries other than Canada in December 2015.  Growth in the energy-related products sector affected downstream sectors, such as petrochemicals; exports of products in that sector also increased.

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2017 can be accessed at

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