In 2013, total U.S. trade with foreign countries was $5.02 trillion. This consisted of $2.272 trillion in exports and $2.744 trillion in imports of both goods and services. This makes the U.S. the world's third largest exporter, after the European Union (EU) and China, and the world's second largest importer, after the EU. (Source: U.S. Census, U.S. Trade in Goods and Services, 2013; CIA World Factbook World Rankings)
What Does the U.S. Export?:
Material goods contribute more than two-thirds of U.S. exports ($1.579 trillion). One-third of them are capital goods ($527 billion). The largest sub-categories are commercial aircraft ($54 billion), industrial machines ($49 billion), and semiconductors ($43 billion). Three other important sub-categories are telecommunications ($40 billion), electric apparatus ($40 billion) and medical equipment ($34 billion).
Another third of goods exports is industrial supplies and equipment ($508 billion). The largest sub-categories are chemicals ($65 billion), fuel oil ($64 billion), petroleum products ($61 billion), plastic ($36 billion), and non-monetary gold ($33 billion).
Only 12% of goods exports are consumer goods ($189 billion). This includes pharmaceuticals ($48 billion), cell phones ($24 billion) and gem diamonds ($21 billion).
Automobiles make up 10% ($152 billion) of all goods exported.
Just 9% of goods exported are foods, feeds and beverages ($136 billion). The big three are soybeans ($23 billion), meat/poultry ($19 billion) and wheat ($11 billion). (Source: U.S. Census, Exhibit 7. Exports by End-Use Category, 2013)
Services contribute one-third of U.S. exports ($682 billion). Travel passenger services was the largest single category, at $140 billion. Next was royalties and license fees, at $130 billion. Passenger fares totaled $41 billion, while other transportation was $45 billion. Government and military contracts was $22 billion. The rest was miscellaneous private services, which includes financial services.(Source: U.S. Census, Exhibit 3, U.S. Services by Major Category -- Exports, 2013)
What Does the U.S. Import?
More than 80% of U.S. imports are goods ($2.268 trillion). Slightly less than a third of this is industrial machinery and equipment ($681 billion). Of this, chemicals is the largest sub-category, at $61 billion. Next is fuel oil ($44 billion), petroleum products ($48 billion) and industrial supplies ($29 billion).
Capital goods is one fourth of all goods imported ($548 billion). This includes computers ($65 billion), computer accessories ($57 billion), and telecommunications equipment ($54 billion).
Nearly another quarter is consumer goods ($533 billion). Of this, cell phones is the largest ($90 billion), followed by pharmaceuticals ($84 billion) and apparel ($49 billion).
The fourth largest category was automotive vehicles, parts, and engines at $309 billion. Food, feeds, and beverages was the smallest category, at $115 billion. Americans import fish ($18 billion), fruit ($13 billion) and vegetables ($11 billion). (Source: U.S. Census, Exhibit 6 - Imports by End-Use Category)
Services make up only 20% of imports ($450 billion). Miscellaneous private services, primarily financial services, was nearly half, at $201 billion. The next largest category is travel passenger services, at $86 billion. Other transportation services was $59 billion, while passenger fares totaled $38 billion. The U.S. imported $42 billion in royalties and license fees services. Last but not least was U.S. Government service imports ($25 billion) which was primarily defense ($22 billion). (Source: U.S. Census, Exhibit 4, U.S. Services by Major Category -- Imports, 2013)
The U.S. imports more than it exports. This creates a trade deficit of $471 billion. Even though America exports billions in oil, consumer goods and automotive products, it imports even more. For more on the economic impact of this, see U.S. Trade Deficit. Article updated April 21, 2014