Trade Shifts Home Page

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2021
Investigation No. 332-345
Publication 5332 (June 2022)

Welcome to Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2021 (also called 2021 Trade Shifts), published by the U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission or USITC).[1] This report is the Commission’s annual examination of trends in U.S. merchandise trade and describes the overall changes in U.S. trade during 2021, particularly within 10 industry sectors.[2] The report also includes a “special topic” chapter, which this year focuses on the impact of rising commodity prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. The Commission also regularly examines the trends in services trade in its Recent Trends in Services Trade report.[3]

Part I of this report provides a macroeconomic overview of the global economy in 2021 and a review of the most substantial trends in merchandise trade by partner country and sector. Part II discusses shifts in 10 important U.S. industry sectors covering roughly 92 percent of U.S. total trade.[4] Data for two additional merchandise sectors—miscellaneous manufactures and special provisions—are included in some tables but are not discussed in detail in the text.

Note that this report uses data on three broad categories of trade: “total exports,” “domestic exports,” and “general imports.”[5] Unless otherwise noted, the export data used in the report are for domestic exports. Some sector discussions include data on re-exports.[6] The import data used in the report are for general imports.

Part III analyzes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other shocks to commodity prices and their effects on imports of certain trade sectors covered by this report. This section offers detailed explanations of the various disruptions that occurred in 2021 and analyzes several factors including commodity price series data; demand and supply factors; and delays in arrival times of imported products. In addition, the section features three case studies covering aluminum, corn, and natural gas.

As in previous years, this year’s report features a downloadable dataset for U.S. merchandise trade from 2017 to 2021 in addition to a web-based format that optimizes the use of interactive features.[7] Each section has its own webpage, and the hyperlinks for the sections can be opened in the leftmost column of this home page.

Report Contents

Part I: Introduction

Part II: Sector Shifts

Part II describes the leading shifts in trade for the following 10 industry sectors:

Part III: Special Topic

Each section includes data tables and interactive graphics.



This report was prepared principally by:

Project Leader

Gregory LaRocca

Deputy Project Leader

Katherine Stubblefield

Principal Authors

Part I

Gregory LaRocca, Christopher Montgomery

Part II

Mark Brininstool, Brad Gehrke, Fernando Gracia, Robert Ireland, Elizabeth Nesbitt,
Mary Roop, Mitchell Semanik, Brennan Taylor, Allison Utomi

Part III

David Guberman, Diana Friedman, Caroline Peters, Kelsi Van Veen

Content Reviewers

Katherine Antonio Sanjinez, Amelia Shister

Editorial Reviewer

Judy Edelhoff

Statistical Reviewers

Mara Alexander, Ann-Marie Carton, Lita David-Harris, Onslow Hall, Conor Hargrove, Christine Lee,
Maureen Letostak, Cynthia Payne, Laura Thayn, Aaron Woodward

Web Team and Accessibility Support

Carrin Brown, Christian Fluitt, Joel Lehman, Cameron Richardson, Kathleen Rumsey

Production Support

Trina Chambers, Byron Barlow, Gwenetta Duvall

Under the direction of

Robert Carr, Acting Director, Office of Industries

Media Contact

Jennifer Andberg

Director, Office of External Relations





[1] This report is the 29th in a series of annual reports on U.S. trade in goods published by the U.S. International Trade Commission (Commission or USITC). This report is one of the ways in which the Commission annually provides information to the public on changes in trade in goods. The Commission also publishes an annual companion report on U.S. trade in services, Recent Trends in the U.S. Services Trade. These recurring reports are prepared under an investigation instituted by the Commission in 1993 under section 332(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930.

[2] Industry sectors are further divided into digests. Each USITC sector digest encompasses various 8-digit subheadings in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS). The USITC maintains and publishes the HTS which sets out the tariff rates and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the United States. The U. S. Census Bureau (Census) collects and compiles export statistics of approximately 8,000 commodity classifications (10-digit classification codes) in Schedule B: Statistical Classification of Domestic and Foreign Commodities Exported from the United States. Schedule B classification codes are concorded to HTS 10-digit statistical reporting numbers based on USITC estimates; therefore, the classification codes for exports are presented using HTS 8-digit subheadings for imports. For a complete list of HTS subheadings classified in a particular sector or digest, see this data table.

[3] For more information, see the Recent Trends landing page here.

[4] U.S. total trade is the sum of U.S. general imports and U.S. total exports.

[5] For more information on trade terminology, please refer to USITC, “Special Topic: Trade Metrics,” Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2014.

[6] Re-exports, also known as foreign exports, are calculated as total exports minus domestic exports. Exports of foreign goods (re-exports) consist of commodities of foreign origin that (1) have previously been admitted to a U.S. foreign-trade zone or entered the United States customs territory for consumption, including via entry into a U.S. Customs and Border Protection bonded warehouse, and (2) at the time of exportation, are in substantially the same condition as when imported.

[7] Underlying data for all figures and tables are available in appendix website.