Connect with us

Commodities

Charted: What’s Driving the U.S. Trade Deficit?

Published

on

2022 U.S. trade deficit

How Manufactured Goods Dominate the U.S. Trade Deficit

The United States has had many major trading partners over the decades, with annual imports and exports from them both totaling trillions of dollars.

Ever since the 1970s, the country’s imports started to overshadow exports and the U.S. trade deficit began to grow. Once the 1990s began, fueled by globalization-friendly policies around the world and cheap international goods, the trade deficit began to climb even more rapidly.

In this graphic, Ehsan Soltani uses data from the World Trade Organization to highlight the role of manufactured goods in the rising U.S. trade deficit over the last three decades.

U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods From 1990 to 2022

In 2022, the U.S. trade deficit for goods hit $1.31 trillion, consisting of more than $3 trillion in imports and offset by $2 trillion in exports. That’s a growth of 40% over a decade from a deficit $791 billion in 2012.

YearU.S. Exports
(Total)
U.S. Imports
(Total)
Trade Surplus/Deficit
2022$2,065B$3,376B-$1,311B
2021$1,754B$2,935B-$1,183B
2020$1,425B$2,407B-$982B
2019$1,643B$2,567B-$924B
2018$1,664B$2,614B-$950B
2017$1,546B$2,408B-$862B
2016$1,451B$2,250B-$799B
2015$1,503B$2,315B-$813B
2014$1,621B$2,413B-$792B
2013$1,580B$2,329B-$749B
2012$1,546B$2,337B-$791B
2011$1,483B$2,266B-$784B
2010$1,278B$1,969B-$691B
2009$1,056B$1,605B-$549B
2008$1,287B$2,169B-$882B
2007$1,148B$2,020B-$872B
2006$1,026B$1,918B-$892B
2005$901B$1,733B-$832B
2004$815B$1,526B-$711B
2003$725B$1,303B-$578B
2002$693B$1,200B-$507B
2001$729B$1,179B-$450B
2000$782B$1,259B-$477B
1999$696B$1,059B-$364B
1998$682B$944B-$262B
1997$689B$899B-$210B
1996$625B$822B-$197B
1995$585B$771B-$186B
1994$513B$689B-$177B
1993$465B$603B-$139B
1992$448B$554B-$106B
1991$422B$508B-$87B
1990$394B$517B-$123B

When compared to trade numbers from the early 1990s and 2000s, its clear how much U.S. trade as a whole has grown.

In 1992, the U.S. trade deficit for goods sat at only $106 billion, with imports totaling $554 billion and exports totaling $448 billion. Just a decade later by 2002, the deficit had already climbed by five times.

Manufactured Goods Trade Outshines Fuel

Analyzing the subtleties in the country’s deficit in traded goods also shows how U.S. reliance on other countries has changed over the years.

In 1990, the deficit incurred from trading manufactured goods—which doesn’t include fuel, mining production, agricultural products, or services—contributed to 69% of the total U.S. goods trade deficit.

YearU.S. Exports
(Manufactured)
U.S. Imports
(Manufactured)
Trade Surplus/Deficit
2022$1,196B$2,569B-$1,372B
2021$1,079B$2,256B-$1,177B
2020$915B$1,892B-$976B
2019$1,036B$1,994B-$958B
2018$1,050B$2,016B-$966B
2017$1,008B$1,872B-$864B
2016$969B$1,775B-$806B
2015$1,008B$1,811B-$803B
2014$1,052B$1,752B-$700B
2013$1,020B$1,650B-$629B
2012$1,009B$1,619B-$610B
2011$969B$1,524B-$555B
2010$872B$1,369B-$497B
2009$725B$1,122B-$397B
2008$973B$1,417B-$443B
2007$909B$1,409B-$500B
2006$829B$1,350B-$522B
2005$674B$1,238B-$564B
2004$618B$1,134B-$516B
2003$589B$990B-$401B
2002$571B$934B-$363B
2001$602B$906B-$303B
2000$646B$968B-$322B
1999$575B$843B-$268B
1998$558B$758B-$199B
1997$553B$699B-$145B
1996$485B$634B-$150B
1995$450B$608B-$158B
1994$399B$540B-$141B
1993$356B$465B-$109B
1992$340B$420B-$79B
1991$319B$380B-$61B
1990$290B$376B-$85B

Since then, despite the country exporting billions of dollars of products, the deficit caused by imported manufactured goods has only grown. In 2021, it crossed $1 trillion in deficit alone.

Part of that growth is directly tied to increasing imports from China over the 21st century. From 2001 to 2018, China’s exports to the U.S. accounted for 59% of the latter’s increasing manufacturing trade deficit, ranging in goods from electronics to machinery.

2022 U.S. trade deficit

However, the U.S. managed to recover some of this deficit through surplus fuel exports, which have been increasing over the same time period.

YearFuel Exports Fuel ImportsFuel Surplus/Deficit
2022$378B$323B$56B
2021$240B$224B$16B
2020$155B$130B$25B
2019$200B$210B$-10B
2018$193B$242B$-49B
2017$139B$204B$-65B
2016$94B$163B$-69B
2015$104B$200B$-96B
2014$155B$358B$-203B
2013$149B$389B$-240B
2012$137B$433B$-295B
2011$130B$463B$-332B
2010$81B$364B$-283B
2009$55B$279B$-224B
2008$77B$502B$-425B
2007$42B$372B$-330B
2006$35B$345B$-310B
2005$27B$301B$-275B
2004$19B$217B$-198B
2003$14B$163B$-149B
2002$12B$122B$-110B
2001$13B$129B$-116B
2000$13B$140B$-126B
1999$10B$79B$-69B
1998$10B$62B$-52B
1997$13B$83B$-70B
1996$12B$77B$-65B
1995$10B$63B$-53B
1994$9B$60B$-51B
1993$10B$59B$-49B
1992$11B$59B$-47B
1991$12B$58B$-46B
1990$12B$69B$-56B

Historically the U.S. was a larger fuel consumer than producer, and was heavily affected by soaring oil prices from 2003 to the Great Recession. In 2008, the United States trade deficit in fuel hit $425 billion.

But a boom in shale oil production has seen the country rapidly increase production and exports, becoming the world’s largest crude oil producer. Despite falling oil prices, by 2020 the U.S. managed to erase its fuel trade deficit.

Will The U.S. Trade Deficit Keep Growing?

The dominance of manufactured goods in the U.S. trade deficit poses a significant challenge for policymakers and businesses.

On one hand, the country’s reliance on other countries for cheaper parts and labor has allowed its economy to benefit. But it has also become increasingly susceptible to tariffs, slowdowns in other countries, and trade wars.

While there are efforts in place to promote domestic manufacturing, such as in semiconductor chips, the effects have yet to dent the goods trade deficit.

green check mark icon

This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

Click for Comments

Energy

Visualizing Saudi Aramco’s Massive Oil Reserves

Saudi Aramco controls almost 259 billion barrels worth of oil and gas reserves.

Published

on

Visualizing Saudi Aramco’s Massive Oil Reserves

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Saudi Aramco controls 259 billion barrels worth of oil and gas reserves, which is unmatched by any other company globally. This is a key factor in the company’s massive $1.8 trillion valuation.

To illustrate that, this chart compares the proved reserves of major oil companies as of 2022. Data was compiled by Statista from various company reports.

Crown Jewel

Saudi Aramco is the national oil company of Saudi Arabia. As of 2024, it is the sixth-largest company in the world by market capitalization.

Its oil reserves are over four times bigger than the reserves of all the other six companies on our list combined.

CompanyProved reserves (billion barrels of oil equivalent)
Saudi Aramco258.8
ExxonMobil17.7
Chevron11.2
Total Energies10.2
Shell9.6
BP7.2
Eni6.6

Behind Saudi Aramco, American company ExxonMobil comes in second with 17.7 billion barrels of oil equivalent, followed by another American company, Chevron, with 11.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Saudi Aramco produces 9 million barrels of oil a day, more than any other firm and nearly a tenth of the world’s total.

In addition, the state-run oil giant is the world’s most profitable company, generating $722 billion in profits between 2016 and 2023.

Saudi Aramco is also expected to play a big part in Saudi Arabia’s plans to diversify its economy and reduce oil dependence. Recently, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman confirmed that the kingdom is in talks to sell a 1% stake in the state oil giant, which could help fund the country’s projects in clean energy and technology.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out this graphic, which ranks oil production by country.

Continue Reading
Limited Time Offer: Lifetime Access to VC+

Subscribe

Popular