Think you know America’s top 15 trading partners?

Now and again, I find myself wondering about some basic economic topic, like the components of America’s gross domestic product, the composition of America’s budget, or the size of America’s debt. Check out those posts if you’re curious about these topics.

Today, I was curious about our trade partners. Who receives the largest portion of our exports? Who gives us the largest portion of our imports? I was surprised by the answers. Maybe you will be too. The statistics below are from the U.S. Census Bureau for the year 2010.

RankCountryU.S. exports this muchU.S. imports this muchTotal Trade
6.United Kingdom48.549.898.3
7.South Korea38.848.987.7
15.Saudi Arabia11.631.443.0
Total, Top 15 Countries894.11401.32295.4
Total, All Countries1278.11912.13190.2

A few things to note:

  • This list does not include the European Union (EU), which includes four (Germany, UK, France, Netherlands) of the above states in a single economic entity. As a single economy, the EU is the largest trading partner of the U.S. with $319.6 billion worth of EU goods going to the U.S. and $239.8 billion of U.S. goods going to the EU as of 2010, totaling approximately $559.4 billion in total trade.
  • These numbers account only for imports and exports of goods. The value of services sold among nations, and the value of investment in foreign countries, is not reflected.
  • Our top 15 trading partners account for 72 percent of all our trading worldwide.
  • The United States is the most significant nation in the world when it comes to international trade. For decades, it has led the world in imports while simultaneously remaining as one of the top three exporters of the world.
  • As the major epicenter of world trade, the United States enjoys leverage that many other nations do not. For one, because it is the world’s leading consumer, it is the No. 1 customer of companies all around the world. Many businesses compete for a share of the United States market. In addition, the United States occasionally uses its economic leverage to impose economic sanctions in different regions of the world. USA is the top export market for almost 60 trading nations worldwide.
  • Because it is the world’s leading importer, there are many U.S. dollars in circulation all around the planet. The stable U.S. economy and fairly sound monetary policy has led to faith in the U.S. dollar as the world’s most stable currency. (Knock on wood!)
  • In order to fund the national debt (also known as public debt), the United States relies on selling U.S. treasury bonds to people both inside and outside the country, and in recent times the latter have become increasingly important. Much of the money generated for the treasury bonds came from U.S. dollars used to purchase imports in the United States.

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