November 12, 2021
News Release 21-129
Inv. No(s). 332-345
Contact: Peg O'Laughlin, 202-205-1819
USITC Releases Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2020

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2020 (2020 Trade Shifts) is now available on the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) internet site.

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan federal agency, released its annual web-based report on changes in U.S. merchandise trade patterns. 

2020 Trade Shifts highlights changes in U.S. exports and imports by merchandise sector and select trading partners in terms of absolute value changes, relative percent changes, and changes in rank.  It includes interactive features, such as tables and graphics that allow users to view and refine, as they choose, the official government data presented.

Highlights from the 2020 Trade Shifts report include:

  • In 2020, U.S. total exports and general imports both decreased. These declines were largely driven by supply and demand factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting contraction of the global economy.

  • The 2020 report includes a special topic section that examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on freight transportation services and U.S. merchandise imports. In particular, the section discusses the nature of both maritime and air cargo shipping disruptions during the pandemic, and the effects of these disruptions on freight rates, shipping modes, and arrival times of U.S. merchandise imports.

  • U.S. exports in 9 of the 10 merchandise sectors included in this report decreased from 2019 to 2020. The only merchandise sector that had an increase was agricultural products.

  • U.S. imports decreased for half of the 10 merchandise sectors. Most of the drop in U.S. imports was driven by two sectors, transportation equipment and energy-related products.

  • China returned to its position as the top U.S. trade partner in 2020; Mexico and Canada fell to second and third place, respectively. The largest destination markets for U.S. exports were Canada and Mexico. China continued to be the top source of U.S. imports and remained the third largest destination market for U.S. exports. 

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2020 can be accessed at

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