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Transportation Equipment

Author: David Coffin
International Trade Analyst

Change in 2014 from 2013:

  To view changing data, mouseover the graphic below.
  • U.S. total exports: Increased by $13.5 billion (4 percent) to $355.6 billion
  • U.S. general imports: Increased by $27.6 billion (7 percent) to $403.0 billion

In 2014, total U.S. exports of transportation equipment reached $335.6 billion, an increase of 4 percent. U.S. general imports of transportation equipment grew at nearly twice that rate (7 percent) to $403.0 billion in 2014.

U.S. Exports1

U.S. exports of transportation equipment primarily consist of domestic exports, which accounted for 91 percent of U.S. total exports in this sector.2 Major trading partners for U.S. exports of transportation equipment were Canada, Mexico, and Japan (see table TE.1). U.S. domestic exports of transportation equipment rose by 4 percent to $305.4 billion in 2014. Increases in exports of aircraft, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines offset a decline in exports of construction and mining equipment (table TE.2).

Table TE.1: Transportation equipment: U.S. exports and general imports, by selected trading partners, 2010–14
 
Million $
 
           
Absolute change,
Percent change,
Item
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2013-14
2013-14
U.S. exports of domestic exports merchandise:              
Canada 57,824 63,923 68,185 68,936 69,182 246 0.4
Mexico 22,523 26,828 31,131 33,726 35,427 1,700 5
Japan 7,527 7,775 11,462 10,040 9,904 -136 -1.4
Germany 11,311 13,116 13,505 12,589 13,396 808 6.4
China 12,520 15,831 17,522 25,035 28,877 3,843 15.4
South Korea 4,702 4,802 5,579 6,217 5,917 -300 -4.8
United Kingdom 8,785 9,957 9,570 10,933 12,038 1,105 10.1
France 7,672 7,847 8,262 8,495 8,416 -79 -0.9
Brazil 7,265 9,122 8,996 8,141 6,990 -1,151 -14.1
Italy 1,797 1,990 2,275 2,373 2,822 449 18.9
All other 81,081 96,883 109,633 106,542 112,392 5,850 5.5
Total domestic exports 223,007 258,074 286,121 293,026 305,360 12,334 4.2
Re-exports 18,252 21,990 27,324 29,086 30,268 1,182 4.1
Total U.S. exports (domestic exports and re-exports) 241,259 280,064 313,445 322,112 335,629 13,516 4.2
U.S. general imports:              
Canada 59,077 64,658 73,442 71,518 74,189 2,671 3.7
Mexico 57,620 67,507 77,861 85,139 96,238 11,098 13
Japan 52,791 55,699 70,144 67,913 65,156 -2,757 -4.1
Germany 28,427 34,128 40,291 43,412 46,106 2,695 6.2
China 11,971 15,440 17,046 18,052 21,499 3,446 19.1
South Korea 11,359 15,279 18,804 20,841 24,042 3,200 15.4
United Kingdom 9,362 10,796 12,771 12,965 14,054 1,089 8.4
France 10,429 10,704 11,549 13,201 14,039 838 6.4
Brazil 2,274 2,987 3,419 3,368 4,232 864 25.7
Italy 3,737 4,651 5,785 6,528 7,868 1,340 20.5
All other 21,970 28,146 32,205 32,509 35,596 3,087 9.5
Total general imports 269,017 309,994 363,318 375,445 403,018 27,572 7.3
Source: Compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the 2010–14 period. These reflect all official revisions of previously published data up to June 2014 (accessed April 21, 2015).
Note: Import values are based on Customs value; export values are based on free along ship value, U.S. port of export. Calculations based on unrounded data. The trading partners shown are those with the largest total U.S. trade (U.S. general imports plus U.S. domestic exports) in these products in the current year. Re-exports (also called foreign exports) are further defined in the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) and in the “Trade Metrics” discussion.
Table TE.2: Transportation equipment: Leading changes in U.S. domestic exports and general imports, 2010–14
 
Million $
 
           
Absolute change,
Percent change,
Item
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2013-14
2013-14
U.S. domestic exports:              
Increases:              
Aircraft, spacecraft, and related equipment (TE013) 74,263 82,245 95,409 104,392 113,381 8,989 8.6
Motor vehicles (TE009) 48,978 59,436 65,752 69,773 73,656 3,883 5.6
Internal combustion piston engines, other than for aircraft (TE002) 16,216 18,189 18,942 18,867 20,181 1,314 7
Decreases:              
Construction and mining equipment (TE004) 22,081 27,998 30,007 23,788 20,369 -3,418 -14.4
All other 61,470 70,206 76,011 76,207 77,773 1,566 2.1
Total 223,007 258,074 286,121 293,026 305,360 12,334 4.2
U.S. general imports:              
Increases:              
Certain motor-vehicle parts (TE010) 54,444 63,368 73,333 75,206 82,013 6,806 9
Motor vehicles (TE009) 130,065 140,963 168,195 176,780 183,251 6,471 3.7
Aircraft, spacecraft, and related equipment (TE013) 18,766 21,463 24,134 29,423 34,264 4,841 16.5
Internal combustion piston engines, other than for aircraft (TE002) 19,775 25,459 28,014 26,967 30,142 3,175 11.8
All other 45,966 58,741 69,643 67,069 73,348 6,279 9.4
Total 269,017 309,994 363,318 375,445 403,018 27,572 7.3
Source: Compiled from official statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the 2010–14 period. These reflect all official revisions of previously published data up to June 2014 (accessed March 27, 2015).
Note: Import values are based on Customs value; export values are based on free along ship value, U.S. port of export. Calculations based on unrounded data. Table TE.2 Changes in U.S. trade of transportation equipment, by sector (2010–14)

U.S. exports of aircraft increased by nearly $9.0 billion (9 percent). Boeing’s deliveries of aircraft to foreign markets rose from 466 units in 2013 to 505 units in 2014, likely accounting for much of the growth. Further, Boeing’s largest and most expensive aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, made up 20 percent (103 aircraft) of total export deliveries, a significant increase from the 2013 level of 63 Dreamliners sold to foreign markets.3 Increased production efficiency at Boeing’s North Carolina plant likely contributed to this increase in Dreamliner deliveries.4 Growth in exports of aircraft was relatively evenly distributed, with increases of $1.3–1.7 billion for each of the United States’ six leading trading partners (Chile, China, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Turkey). China was the top overall market for U.S. exports of aircraft in 2014.

U.S. exports of motor vehicles increased by $3.9 billion (6 percent) in response to greater demand for U.S.-produced motor vehicles. U.S. exports of U.S. motor vehicles to China rose by $2.6 billion in 2014 to $10.9 billion (or 31 percent). This likely reflects a general increase in shipments of foreign-produced motor vehicles to China, where imports of motor vehicles grew by nearly 25 percent to $60.7 billion in 20145 (see also the China webpage). U.S. exports of internal combustion engines also increased by $1.3 billion (7 percent) in 2014. This growth was driven in large part by exports to Mexico, which rose by $1.7 billion (33 percent) to $6.6 billion. Mexico posted a fifth consecutive year of record motor vehicle production, totaling 3.3 million vehicles, up 10 percent from the previous year’s total of 3 million vehicles.6 Three new assembly plants that opened in Mexico in late 2013 and 2014 likely contributed to the record production levels, spurring demand for engines from the United States.7

However, U.S. exports of construction and mining equipment declined by $3.4 billion (14 percent) in 2014. This drop was likely caused by reduced investment in new equipment by mining companies because of lower commodity prices.8 U.S. domestic exports to Equatorial Guinea, Australia, and Mexico fell by over $1.3 billion from 2013. The largest declines were related to equipment for mining or drilling. For example, offshore oil and natural gas platforms accounted for the vast majority of the decrease in the value of U.S. domestic exports to Equatorial Guinea, dropping from $483 million in 2013 to $62,000 in 2014. U.S. exports of boring or sinking machinery and parts made up more than half of the decline in exports to Mexico. U.S. exports of dumpers for off-highway use also declined significantly.9

U.S. Imports

U.S. general imports of transportation equipment increased by $27.6 billion (7 percent) from $375.4 billion to $403.0 billion. Motor vehicle parts, motor vehicles, aircraft, and internal combustion engines accounted for more than 75 percent of this growth.

The $6.8 billion (9 percent) growth in U.S. imports of motor vehicle parts to $82.0 billion in 2014 was likely driven in part by higher production of motor vehicles in the United States; production expanded by 5 percent to 11.7 million units in 2014.10 Imports from Mexico increased the most in value ($3.4 billion) because of Mexico’s importance in the North American motor vehicle supply chain.11 Imports from China also increased significantly, by nearly $1.4 billion; many of these imports were likely replacement parts for imported passenger vehicles, as parts suppliers tend to be located near assembly plants.12

Growing U.S. demand for motor vehicles drove U.S. sales to almost 17 million units and U.S. imports to $183.3 billion in 2014.13 Motor vehicle imports from Mexico grew the most, likely because of the increased production from new and existing plants discussed in the export section. South Korea and Hungary were the other two largest sources of import growth, with increases of $2.5 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively.

U.S. imports of aircraft and aircraft parts rose by $4.8 billion (17 percent) to $34.3 billion in 2014. The top three increases in aircraft imports were from Canada, Germany, and Japan ($1.3 billion, $1.1 billion, and $1.0 billion, respectively) and represented growth in discrete segments of the aircraft industry. The rise in imports from Canada was likely accounted for by business jets manufactured by Bombardier, Inc. The increase in imports from Germany was likely of commercial airliners produced by Airbus, which completes final assembly of many of its commercial airliners in Hamburg.14 And finally, the growth in imports from Japan was likely driven by increased demand for parts for Boeing aircraft (see the Japan webpage for more detail).

The increase in imports of internal combustion engines was likely driven in part by the growth in the U.S. motor vehicle industry, with output up 5 percent in 2014 to 11.7 million units.15 Growth occurred in imports from NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, which are part of the highly integrated North American motor vehicle industry. Imports also grew from other vehicle-producing countries, such as Japan, Germany, and South Korea, which have U.S. operations that often source engines from home-country suppliers.


1 As appropriate, this section will address total exports, domestic exports, and re-exports.
2 Re-exports, which make up only 9 percent of total exports, increased at largely the same rate as total exports, increasing by 4 percent from $29.1 billion in 2013 to $30.3 billion in 2014.
3 Boeing, “Orders and Deliveries” (accessed March 10, 2015).
4 Wren, “Boeing Beats Yearly Goal,” January 6, 2015.
5 GTIS, GTA database (accessed March 11, 2015).
6 Automotive News, “North American Production by Nameplate,” January 26, 2015, 61.
7 Honda Motor Co., “Honda Increases North American Manufacturing Footprint,” February 21, 2014; Mazda Motor Corporation, “Mazda Starts Production at New Plant in Mexico,” January 7, 2014; Nissan Motor Company, “Nissan Inaugurates All-New Aguascalientes Mexico Plant,” November 12, 2013.
8 Ernst & Young, “Mining Equipment Overview,” 2014 (accessed March 11, 2015); Trefis Team, “Is Caterpillar’s Mining Equipment Business Turnaround in Sight?” December 12, 2014.
9 USITC DataWeb/USDOC (commodity group TE004; accessed March 12, 2015).
10 Automotive News, “North American Production by Nameplate,” January 26, 2015, 61.
11 USITC DataWeb/USDOC (commodity group TE010; accessed February 11, 2015).
12 Sturgeon and Van Biesebroeck, “Effects of the Crisis,” June 2010, 4.
13 Binder, Ward’s Automotive Yearbook, 2014, 186; Kessler, “2014 Auto Sales Jump in U.S.,” January 5, 2015.
14 Airbus company website, http://www.airbus.com/company/worldwide-presence/airbus-in-germany/ (accessed March 13, 2015).
15 Automotive News, “North American Production by Nameplate,” January 26, 2015, 61.