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International trade is a significant driver of the US economy, and over the past two decades exports of goods and services abroad made up more than 10% of US GDP, on average.
Despite being a vital player in global markets, the US continues to operate at a net trade deficit, reaching a deficit of nearly $600 billion in 2022 with our three largest trading partners.
The US relies on key imports from countries at lower prices for consumers, and exports help create jobs for Americans and enables businesses to expand into foreign markets.
The nation’s largest goods import trading partners were China ($536.8 billion), Mexico ($454.9 billion), and Canada ($437.7 billion), making up more than one-third of America’s imported goods. Japan ($148.3 billion) and Germany ($146.6 billion) rounded out the top five.
The US imported $4 trillion in goods and services in 2022, the highest amount on record and nearly $300 billion more than 2021 after (inflation-adjusted). Of this, $3.3 trillion came from imported goods.
In 2022, the US imported goods from every country, emphasizing its central role in global commerce. This includes limited trade with Russia, Afghanistan, and North Korea, among others, despite existing sanctions. These trades mostly involve raw materials such as minerals, metals, and food, rather than more complex industrial products.
Crude oil, semiconductors, cars, and pharmaceutical ingredients for prescription drugs were the most common goods imported by the US.
In addition to goods, the services category of international trade covers transactions between foreign countries which don’t involve tangible goods.
The most popular services imported by the US include foreign travel, research and development, and business and legal consultations.
The United States exported the most goods to Canada ($356.1 billion), followed by Mexico ($324.4 billion), China ($153.8), Japan ($80.3 billion), and the United Kingdom ($77.3 billion).
In 2022, the US exported $3 trillion in goods and services, another record and roughly $250 billion more than in 2021 (inflation-adjusted). Of this, $2.1 trillion in trade came from exported goods.
The most common US goods exports included crude oil and other petroleum products, industrial machinery, electronics, and plastic materials.
Financial services, international travel, and research and development were among the most popular services exported by the US last year.
Following a brief dip in trade during the first year of the pandemic, US international commerce has risen to record levels in 2022.
The US imported far more than it exported in 2022, resulting in a $600 billion trade deficit with Canada, China, and Mexico combined.
According to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), trade plays a critical role in America's prosperity, driving economic growth, creating jobs, and improving the standard of living by making affordable goods and services available to Americans.
Over the past few decades, the expansion of international trade has created productive, higher-paying jobs, including careers in trade management, international sales and marketing, supply chain logistics, and international finance.
Trade also broadens the variety of products available to consumers and businesses and encourages global investments abroad and at home.
Despite these benefits, sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture, and others may face challenges competing with international goods and services sold at lower prices.
To get a full picture of the US economy, read more about the trade deficit, or how free trade agreements work, and get the facts every week by signing up for our newsletter.
The maps below don't show any services in their international trade data because the Census Bureau doesn't include them. However, the Bureau of Economic Analysis collects data on both goods and services, which provides a more complete picture of trade.
The Census Bureau provides data for every country the United States trades with, but only for goods, not services.
Certain goods, such as pharmaceutical ingredients and cars, are popular as both imports and exports.
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