What Are the Top U.S. Imports?

At the end of quarter 2018, the United States’ trade deficit increased to its highest level since 2008. This was due to a steady rise in imports that was in turn fueled by strong domestic demand. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. trade deficit reached $46.3 billion in June, up $3.2 billion from $43.2 billion in May. That same quarter, average imports increased $0.8 billion to $258.7 billion.

President Donald Trump has called for a reduction in the trade deficit and has consistently pushed for an ‘America First’ trade policy. His administration’s move to impose tariffs on Chinese imports and the subsequent retaliation by the Asian economy has stock market investors on edge. The trade deficit with China was at $33.2 billion as of May 31, 2018, up from $28.0 billion on April 30, 2018. At the end of June, the trade deficit with China for the year stood at $185.7 billion.

President Trump’s administration revealed tariffs of 25% on up to $50 billion worth of Chinese products on June 15, 2018. The Trump Administration is reportedly looking to add an additional tariff of 10% on up to $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

On August 8, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced that it will retaliate against the most recent round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports.

The 25% charge on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods will target 333 goods, including vehicles, fuels and fiber optical cables.

Here’s a closer look at the current composition of U.S. imports. All figures based are on U.S. Census Bureau data for 2017.

Computer and electronic products took the top spot in 2017 with $401 billion worth of goods imported. This category includes computer equipment, audio and visual equipment, and semiconductors and other components used to manufacture electronics. These types of goods are the top commodity imported by California, which is no surprise given the tech industry in Silicon Valley. Apple (AAPL) iPhones, for instance, are manufactured in China, as are some Samsung phones and the Amazon (AMZN) Echo. 

Transportation equipment was the second largest commodity imported in the United States in 2017, clocking in at $385 billion. This category of goods includes car brands like Toyota (TM), BMW, and Hyundai, aerospace products and parts from companies like Airbus, and ships and boats manufactured in China.  

Next on the list were chemicals, including fertilizers and pharmaceuticals, industrial and commercial machinery, and oil and gas. 

California is the top state importer of foreign goods. It’s followed by Michigan, the auto capital of the United States, where the biggest imports are cars and industrial machinery. lllinois, New York, and New Jersey round out the top five.

And where are all these goods coming from? Unsurprisingly, China leads the list. The manufacturing powerhouse supplied just over 21% of all foreign goods imported by the United States at the end of 2017.  As of the end of June 2018, that number dropped to 19.9%. China is followed by Canada and Mexico, which each account for a little over half the value that China imports. Japan and Germany are next on the list.

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