U.S. Trade by Industry Sector and Selected Trading Partners


U.S. Total Exports 


From 2018 to 2019, U.S. total exports decreased by $20.8 billion (1.2 percent) to $1.6 trillion in 2019 (figure US.1). This differed from the previous two periods, where exports increased by $95.0 billion (6.5 percent) from 2016 to 2017 and by $119.5 billion (7.7 percent) from 2017 to 2018.  


Mexico, Canada, and China remained the top destinations for U.S. total exports, despite the fact that exports to these countries declined between 2018 and 2019 (table US.1). U.S. total exports to China had the largest single-country decrease—$13.5 billion (11.3 percent) in 2019. U.S. total exports to Mexico and Canada declined by $9.1 billion (3.4 percent) and $7.4 billion (2.5 percent), respectively. Some of the decline in U.S. total exports in this period was offset by increases in exports to Brazil, Belgium, and the United Kingdom of $3.5 billion (8.9 percent), $3.3 billion (10.6 percent), and $2.8 billion (4.3 percent), respectively. 



U.S. total exports in two-thirds of industry/commodity sectors [1] fell from 2018 to 2019 (table US.2). The largest decreases in U.S. total exports were seen in the minerals and metals sector, down $8.7 billion (6.0 percent) and machinery, down $6.0 billion (4.2 percent). The large declines were somewhat offset by a $7.5 billion (3.8 percent) increase in the value of energy-related product exports. U.S. total exports of transportation equipment and of chemicals and related products, remained approximately the same in 2019 as in 2018. 




 U.S. General Imports 


U.S. general imports fell by $42.4 billion (1.7 percent) to $2.5 trillion in 2019. This is a reversal from the two previous years, in which U.S. imports rose by 8.6 percent in 2018 and 7.0 percent in 2017. As with U.S. exports, the top suppliers of U.S. imports continued to be China, Mexico, and Canada, accounting for 45.2 percent of total U.S. imports in 2019 (table US.3). U.S. imports from China decreased the most from 2018 to 2019, falling by $87.4 billion (16.2 percent) to $452.2 billion. Nearly half of the decline in U.S. imports from China came from the decrease in electronic products. U.S. imports from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia also declined sharply in 2019, dropping by $11.2 billion (85.3 percent) and by $10.6 billion (44.1 percent), respectively, mostly due to a decrease in U.S. imports of energy-related products. U.S. imports from Vietnam and Mexico rose by $17.5 billion (35.6 percent) and $12.0 billion (3.5 percent) respectively. 


U.S. imports of energy-related products, electronic products, minerals and metals, miscellaneous manufactures, forest products, and machinery decreased by a total of $80.3 billion (5.9 percent) from 2018 to 2019, while U.S. imports in the remaining six sectors increased by a total of $37.9 billion (3.2 percent) in 2019 (table US.4). The largest decrease in imports by both absolute value and percentage change occurred in energy-related products, which fell by $31.7 billion (13.4 percent) to $204.9 billion in 2019. Large decreases were also seen in the electronic products and the minerals and metals sectors. U.S. imports for these three sectors combined fell by $68.9 billion from 2018 to 2019. These declines were partly offset by increases in U.S. imports of transportation equipment and chemicals and related products. The largest increase was in U.S. imports of transportation equipment which rose by $12.5 billion (2.7 percent) to $472.0 billion in 2019. 


U.S. Merchandise Trade Balance 

U.S. total exports and U.S. general imports both decreased from 2018 to 2019. Since U.S. imports fell more than U.S. exports, the overall merchandise trade deficit narrowed somewhat, shrinking by $21.6 billion (2.5 percent) to $853.2 billion in 2019. This was a reversal from the prior year’s trend, when it had widened by $81.4 billion in 2018 compared with 2017. In 2019, the United States experienced trade deficits in all sectors besides energy-related products (table US.5). The trade deficit of $37.8 billion in 2018 in energy-related products turned into a trade surplus of $1.4 billion in 2019. This was the first trade surplus in the U.S. energy-related products sector since data began to be reported for this grouping in 1997. 

The trade deficit in electronic products narrowed by $16.4 billion (7.2 percent) to $212.3 billion in 2019. The trade deficit widened the most in transportation equipment, growing by $12.6 billion (10.4 percent) to $133.5 billion in 2019. Agricultural products, in which the United States ran a deficit in 2018 after many years of trade surpluses, widened its trade deficit fivefold to $9.3 billion in 2019.  

In 2019, the United States had trade deficits with all of its top 10 trading partners except the United Kingdom, and the trade deficit expanded with 7 of the United States’ top 10 partners, lessening only with 3 partners (table US.6). The trade deficit with China lessened the most in terms of absolute change, narrowing by $73.9 billion (17.6 percent) to $345.6 billion in 2019 after widening by a total of $72.7 billion in the previous two years. The trade deficit grew the most in terms of absolute change with Mexico and Vietnam, widening by $21.1 billion (26.2 percent) and $16.3 billion (41.3 percent), respectively. Additionally, the trade deficit with Canada widened by $8.2 billion (43.5 percent) in 2019. 





[1] HTS numbers are grouped into digests based on product types. Similar digests are then grouped into industry/commodity sectors. Twelve merchandise (industry/commodity) sectors cover the entire HTS.