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          What does the US import?

          What does the US import?

          What does the United States import?

          The United States’ imports in 2016 amounted to a whopping $2.21 trillion, marking a 24.9% increase from 2006. Of the top most imported products in 2016, the top three - machinery, transportation products and chemical products - form more than half (50.9%) of total imports.

          Products-wise, machinery such as computers and broadcast equipment remain the top imported product from 2006, with a 1% increase from 2006’s 27%. There’s been a significant growth in chemical products, however, increasing from 7.1% in 2006 to 8.9% in 2016, while mineral products fell from 19% to 7.6% of total US imports.

          How China imports matter

          The United States import landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade or so - be it air freight or ocean freight - with a marked pivot to Asia - especially China. In 2006, the US depended more on its NAFTA partners, importing $286 billion (26%) and $194 billion (11%) from its neighbors Canada and Mexico respectively. Meanwhile, Chinese imports totalled $253 billion, or 14% of total US imports. Fast forward 10 years to 2016 and we see that nearly half (45%) of all US imports now come from Asia, with Chinese imports having increased 90.5% to $482 billion. This has come at the sacrifice of Canada and Mexico, whose imports now amount to $283 billion (13%) and $297 (13%) respectively.

          According to recent news, US President Donald Trump is seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports. This is likely to target information technology, consumer electronics and telecoms but could be expanded to include apparel, footwear, and toys.

          In 2016, computers, broadcasting equipment, telephones, office machine parts, and video displays amounted to more than 28% of the $482 billion Chinese goods imported, while footwear, headwear, and textile make up 12%*.

          Goods Import value % of total
          Computers $52.6B 10.9%
          Broadcasting equipment $39.7B 8.2%
          Telephones $23.6B 4.9%
          Office machine parts $10.7B 2.2%
          Video displays $8.53B 1.8%
          Footwear & headwear $19.1B 4.0%
          Textiles $41.3B 8.6%
          *Source: OEC (Observatory of Economic Complexity)

          European imports

          Across the Atlantic, imports remain proportional, with only a slight increase in European imports from 21% in 2006 to 22% in 2016. Its largest European trading partners also remain largely the same, with Germany (5.3%), the United Kingdom (2.5%) and France (2.2%) making the top three.

          Here’s an infographic to illustrate the breakdown of the United States’ imports.

          What does the United States import?