Animation: How China Trumps the U.S. in Trade

The U.S. trade deficit with China reached record proportions in 2015.

With a difference of $365.7 billion between imports and exports, it is not only the largest trade deficit with China ever recorded, but it’s also the biggest bilateral trade imbalance in all of trade history.

The likely Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has not been happy about America “losing” in these relations. Trump, who has amped up rhetoric on this massive trade deficit as well as the Chinese devaluation of the yuan, has stated many times on the campaign trail that there is a “$500 billion” imbalance with China that needs to be addressed.

While the exact number is exaggerated, Trump isn’t too far off in thinking that the deficit may be getting out of hand. Here’s how U.S. trade with China has evolved over the last 30 years:

U.S. and China Trade Animation

According to the people at, a cost information site that put together this short animation, the U.S. and China both exchanged the same value of goods in 1985 with $3.5 billion of imports and exports.

However, over time this parity would slip away in the favor of the world’s most populous country.

By 2015, the U.S. exported $116.2 billion worth of goods to China, making it America’s third-largest export market. In the same year, China shipped $481.9 billion of goods over to the United States, which is an incredible 123x increase in value (nominal terms) in comparison with 1985.



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