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Top U.S. Companies by Import and Export Volume



top u.s. import export companies

top u.s. import export companies

Nothing has transformed our economy quite like containerized shipping.

From Rotterdam to Singapore, we see tangible evidence of the worldโ€™s bustling maritime shipping network as cranes load and unload uniform containers in a flurry of activity. The efficiency of this system has massively impacted the global economy, but this uniformity has also had the unintended consequence of anonymizing shipping. From the outside looking in, there’s no indication of who’s actually doing the shipping.

Todayโ€™s graphic, using data from JOC, highlights the actual companies behind the United Statesโ€™ importโ€“export numbers.

Outgoing: Recyclables and Raw Materials

While companies like Procter & Gamble and Caterpillar export a high volume of consumer goods and equipment, the export market is dominated by bulk materials, natural resources, and chemicals.

Here are the top 20 companies by export volume (20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs):

RankCompanyTEU (2017)Sector
1America Chung Nam284,500๐Ÿ“„ Paper
โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
2International Paper248,400๐Ÿ“„ Paper
๐Ÿ“ฆ Packaging
3Ralison International130,100๐Ÿ“„ Paper
โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
4Koch Industries120,800๐Ÿ’ผ Conglomerate
5International Forest Products109,400๐ŸŒฒ Paper/Forest Products
โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
6DeLong106,600๐Ÿฎ Animal Feed
๐ŸŒพ Grain
7WM Recycle America75,300๐Ÿ’ผ Diversified
โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
8Shintech73,800๐Ÿ›ข Chemicals
9Louis Dreyfus Commodities68,200โšช๏ธ Cotton
๐Ÿ’ผ Diversified
10WestRock66,300๐Ÿ“„ Paper
๐Ÿ“ฆ Packaging
11JBS USA65,400๐Ÿ– Meats
๐Ÿ— Poultry
12ExxonMobil Chemical63,400๐Ÿ›ข Chemicals
13Newport CH International62,100โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
14BMW of North America61,600๐Ÿš˜ Automotive Goods
15Cargill57,500๐Ÿ’ผ Conglomerate
16JC Horizon55,600โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
17Eastman Chemical53,800๐Ÿ›ข Chemicals/Plastics
18Potential Industries51,600๐Ÿ“„ Paper
โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables
19Domtar48,100๐ŸŒฒ Paper/Forest Products
20Sims Metal Management47,700โš™๏ธ Metals
โ™ป๏ธ Recyclables

Note: TEU = Twenty-foot equivalent unit, a measure of volume in units of twenty-foot long shipping containers.

Though exporters of recyclable materials feature prominently on this list, there may be a shake-up coming in the near future.

Chinaโ€™s Recycling Diet

In Western countries, people often assume that their top export by volume is a high-value manufactured good or, at very least, a natural resource like timber or oil. The truth is, a sizable portion of exports from Western countries are waste materials.

This isnโ€™t a new trend. In 2009, nine of the top 20 exporters in the U.S. were sending recyclable materials overseas โ€“ particularly to China.

This convenient trade relationship, where ships bring consumer goods to America and return filled with recyclable materials, is being disrupted in a big way. In 2018, China launched Operation National Sword, which could potentially tie a knot in the steady pipeline of waste materials being imported into the country.

For now, countries like Vietnam and Thailand have picked up some of the slack, but before long, Western countries will need to take a serious look at beefing up domestic recycling programs.

Incoming: The Stuff We Buy

On the other end of the equation are the consumer goods that get purchased every day.

In modern society, thereโ€™s a very good chance the items around you right now were not built in the country you live in. While many companies import goods from overseas, a few major players move a staggering volume of goods through Americaโ€™s ports.

Here are the top 20 companies by import volume (TEUs):

RankCompanyTEUs (2017)Sector
1Walmart874,800๐Ÿ›’ Retail
2Target590,300๐Ÿ›’ Retail
3Home Depot388,000๐Ÿ›’ Retail
4Lowe's287,500๐Ÿ›’ Retail
5Dole Food220,200๐Ÿ Produce
6Samsung America184,800๐Ÿ’ผ Conglomerate
7Family Dollar / Dollar Tree168,400๐Ÿ›’ Retail
8LG Group161,600๐Ÿ’ผ Conglomerate
9Philips Electronics N.A.142,900๐Ÿ“บ Electronics
10IKEA International120,500๐Ÿ›’ Retail
11Chiquita Brands Int'l117,500๐ŸŒ Produce
12Nike116,300๐Ÿ‘ž Footwear / Apparel
13Newell Brands115,400๐Ÿถ Outdoor / Home Goods
14Costco Wholesale111,700๐Ÿ›’ Retail
15Sears Holdings103,200๐Ÿ›’ Retail
16J.C. Penney101,100๐Ÿ›’ Retail
17General Electric92,300๐Ÿ’ผ Conglomerate
18Ashley Furniture Industries85,700๐Ÿ›‹ Furniture
19Whirlpool74,700๐Ÿ—„ Appliances
20Heineken USA73,100๐Ÿบ Beverages

In contrast to the top exporters list, the top importing companies are generally more recognizable names, such as Target, Home Depot, Dollar Tree, and Ikea.

It will come as no surprise that Walmart, the worldโ€™s biggest retailer by some margin, is also Americaโ€™s top importer. In a single year, Walmartโ€™s incoming goods would equate to nearly 50 of the industryโ€™s largest fully-loaded cargo ships.

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Chart of the Week

The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game – here are the countries and regions projected to contribute the most to global growth in 2019.



The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game.

As long as the data adds up to economic expansion on a worldwide level, it’s easy to keep the status quo rolling. Companies can shift resources to the growing segments, and investors can put capital where it can go to work.

At the end of the day, growth cures everything – it’s only when it dries up that things get hairy.

Breaking Down Global Growth in 2019

Today’s chart uses data from Standard Chartered and the IMF to break down where economic growth is happening in 2019 using purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Further, it also compares the share of the global GDP pie taken by key countries and regions over time.

Let’s start by looking at where global growth is forecasted to occur in 2019:

Country or RegionShare of Global GDP Growth (PPP) in 2019F
Other Asia (Excl. China/Japan)29%
United States11%
Middle East & North Africa4%
Euro Area4%
Latin America & Caribbean3%
Other Europe3%
Sub-Saharan Africa2%
United Kingdom1%
Rest of World8%

The data here mimics some of the previous estimates we’ve seen from Standard Chartered, such as this chart which projects the largest economies in 2030.

Asia as a whole will account for 63% of all global GDP growth (PPP) this year, with the lion’s share going to China. Countries like India and Indonesia will contribute to the “Other Asia” share, and Japan will only contribute 1% to the global growth total.

In terms of developed economies, the U.S. will lead the pack (11%) in contributing to global growth. Europe will add 8% between its various sub-regions, and Canada will add 1%.

Share of Global Economy Over Time

Based on the above projections, we were interested in taking a look at how each region or country’s share of global GDP (PPP) has changed over recent decades.

This time, we used IMF projections from its data mapper tool to loosely approximate the regions above, though there are some minor differences in how the data is organized.

Country or RegionShare of GDP (PPP, 1980)Share of GDP (PPP, 2019F)Change
Developing Asia8.9%34.1%+25.2 pp
European Union29.9%16.0%-13.9 pp
United States21.6%15.0%-6.6 pp
Latin America & Caribbean12.2%7.4%-4.8 pp
Middle East & North Africa8.6%6.5%-2.1 pp
Sub-Saharan Africa2.4%3.0%+0.6 pp

In the past 40 years or so, Developing Asia has increased its share of the global economy (in PPP terms) from 8.9% to an estimated 34.1% today. This dominant region includes China, India, and other fast-growing economies.

The European Union and the United States combined for 51.5% of global productivity in 1980, but they now account for 31% of the total economic mix. Similarly, the Latin America and MENA regions are seeing similar decreases in their share of the economic pie.

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Which Countries Are Set to Attract the Highest Skilled Workers from Abroad?

The world’s most innovative companies want to get the best talent at any cost. See whether their home countries are helping or hurting their odds.



For the world’s most innovative companies, the stated goal of attracting top talent is not simply an HR mantra – it’s a matter of survival.

Whether we’re talking about a giant like Google that is constantly searching to add world-class engineers or we’re talking about a startup that needs a visionary to shape products of the future, innovative companies require access to high-skilled workers to stay ahead of their competition.

The Global Search for Talent

There’s no doubt that top companies will go out of their way to bring in highly-skilled workers, even if they must look internationally to find the best of the best.

However, part of this recruitment process is not necessarily under their control. The reality is that countries themselves have different policies that affect how easy it is to attract people, educate and develop them, and retain the best workers – and these factors can either empower or undermine talent recruitment efforts.

Today’s infographic comes from KDM Engineering, and it breaks down the top 25 countries in attracting high-skilled workers.

Which Countries Are Set to Attract the Highest Skilled Workers from Abroad?

If attracting the best people isn’t hard enough, there is another factor that can complicate things: the best people are sometimes not found locally or even nationally.

For top companies, recruitment is a global game – and it’s partially driven by the policies of governments as well as the quality of life within their countries’ borders.

Top Countries for Attracting High-Skilled Workers

Using data from the United Nations and the Global Talent Competitive Index, here are the top 10 countries that are the best at attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers.

They are ordered by overall rank, but their sub-category ranks are also displayed:

Overall RankCountryEnableAttractGrowRetainMigrants
#1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland#2#5#5#12,438,702
#2๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore#1#1#13#72,543,638
#3๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom#8#11#7#58,543,120
#4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States#11#16#2#846,627,102
#5๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden#9#13#8#41,639,771
#6๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia#17#6#9#146,763,663
#7๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg#21#2#17#3249,325
#8๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark#3#15#3#15572,520
#9๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland#6#21#4#9315,881
#10๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway#13#14#10#2741,813

The subcategory ranks are defined as follows:

  • Enable: Status of regulatory and market landscapes in country
  • Attract: Ability to attract companies and people with needed competencies
  • Grow: Ability to offer high-quality education, apprenticeships, and training
  • Retain: Indicates quality of life in country

According to the data, Switzerland (#1) and Singapore (#2) are the two best countries for attaining and keeping high-skilled workers.

While the regulatory environments in both of these countries are well-known by reputation, perhaps what’s more surprising is that Singapore scores the #1 rank in the “Attract” subcategory, while Switzerland is the #1 country for retaining talent based on quality of life.

Another data point that stands out?

The United States has a higher total migrant population (46.6 million) than all of the countries on the top 10 list combined. Not surprisingly, the massive U.S. economy also has a high ranking in the “Grow” category, which represents available opportunities to bring high-skilled workers to the next level through education and training.

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