The Most Traded Goods Between the U.S. and China
From a young age, many of us were taught that sharing is caring.
Many countries have also followed this simple principle, in the interest of growth and prosperity, when doing business on a global scale.
Today’s infographic from HowMuch.net charts the top imports and exports between the U.S. and China, pulled from the Observatory of Economic Complexity’s (OEC) global market data for 2017.
Which items do you find most surprising?
Give and Take: The Trade Relationship of the U.S. and China
Two of the world’s largest superpowers today, the U.S. and China have typically had a long-standing trade relationship going back decades.
The table below shows the top 10 exports the U.S. sent to China in 2017, along with the proportion of each item in the total export value of $132 billion. The top 10 items account for 39% of total exports to China.
The Top 10 Exports from the U.S. to China (2017)
|Items||Value (US$B)||% of Total Exports|
|Aeroplanes and other aircraft||$13.1||9.9%|
|Vehicles with only spark-ignition internal |
combustion reciprocating piston engine
|Electronic integrated circuits; Processors and controllers||$4.9||3.7%|
|Machines and apparatus for the manufacture of semiconductor |
devices or of electronic integrated circuits
|Vehicles for transport of persons||$1.9||1.4%|
|Petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons||$1.7||1.3%|
While the majority of these are highly specialized, manufactured products─such as airplanes, integrated circuits, and semiconductors─the U.S. still relies on exporting many basic commodities such as gold, copper, and soya beans.
Below is the list of the top 10 imported products from China, and the percent that each product accounts of the total $444 billion in 2017. These top 10 items make up 30% of all products imported from China.
The Top 10 Imports from China to the U.S. (2017)
|Items||Value (US$B)||% of Total Imports|
|Telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks||$43.7||9.8%|
|Automatic data processing machines||$37.2||8.4%|
|Trycicles, scooters and similar wheeled toys & other toys||$12.3||2.8%|
|Games; articles for funfair||$5.4||1.2%|
|Units of automatic data processing machines||$4.4||1.0%|
|Electrical static converters||$4.6||1.0%|
|Reception apparatus for television||$4.2||0.9%|
China is best known for its electronics and technology-focused products─with electronics products accounting for two-thirds of the top 10 Chinese imports. In 2017, China also dominated all electronics imports into the U.S., claiming over 60% of the market.
But how has the recent trade war impacted the imports and exports between the U.S. and China?
The U.S.-China Trade War Continues
At one point, China was the United States’ top trading partner in terms of the total value of imports and exports. Since the trade war began in 2018, China has fallen to third place.
For example, soybean exports to China in 2019 are predicted to only reach a third of numbers seen in 2018, and the price of this commodity has been nearly cut in half.
In the first nine months of 2019 alone, the U.S. saw a 13.5% drop in imported products from China, due to actual and threatened increased tariffs. In addition, U.S. exports to China dropped by 15.5%─a significant loss of $53 billion.
The Future of U.S.-China Trade
To date, the U.S. has enacted tariffs on over $550 billion worth of imported products from China. In response to the U.S. tariffs, China has added tariffs to $185 billion worth of exported goods from the United States.
With the 2020 U.S. presidential election looming on the horizon, threats of increased tariffs seem to dominate headlines internationally. If these trends continue, many U.S. businesses—both at home and abroad in China—could find their bottom lines threatened by rising trade costs.
Ranked: The World’s 50 Top Countries by GDP, by Sector Breakdown
This graphic shows GDP by country, broken down into three main sectors: services, industry, and agriculture.
Visualized: The Three Pillars of GDP, by Country
Over the last several decades, the service sector has fueled the economic activity of the world’s largest countries. Driving this trend has been changes in consumption, the easing of trade barriers, and rapid advancements in tech.
We can see this in the gross domestic product (GDP) breakdown of each country, which gets divided into three broad sectors: services, industry, and agriculture.
The above graphic from Pranav Gavali shows GDP by country, and how each sector contributes to an economy’s output, with data from the World Bank.
Drivers of GDP, by Country
As the most important and fastest growing component of GDP, services make up almost 60% of GDP in the world’s 50 largest countries. Following this is the industrial sector which includes the production of raw goods.
Below, we show how each sector contributes to GDP by country as of 2021:
|🇰🇷 South Korea||57.0||32.4||1.8||8.8||$1.8|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||46.5||44.7||2.7||6.1||$0.8|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong||89.7||6.0||0.1||4.3||$0.4|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||63.0||24.5||2.5||10.0||$0.4|
Industrial sector includes construction. Agriculture sector includes forestry and fishing. *Data as of 2019.
In the U.S., services make up nearly 78% of GDP. Apart from Hong Kong, it comprises the highest share of GDP across the world’s largest economies. Roughly 80% of American jobs in the private sector are in services, spanning from healthcare and entertainment to finance and logistics.
Like America, a growing share of China’s GDP is from services, contributing to almost 54% of total economic output, up from 44% in 2010. This can be attributed to rising incomes and higher productivity in the sector as the economy has grown and matured, among other factors.
In a departure from the top 10 biggest countries globally, agriculture continues to drive a large portion of India’s GDP. India is the world’s second largest producer of wheat and rice, with agriculture accounting for 44% of the country’s employment.
While the services sector has grown in India, it makes up a greater share in other emerging economies such as Brazil (58%), Mexico (59%), and the Philippines (61%).
Services-led growth has risen faster than manufacturing across many developing nations, underpinned by productivity growth.
This structural shift is seen across economies. In many countries in Africa, for instance, jobs have increasingly moved from agriculture to services and trade, where it now accounts for 42% of jobs.
These growth patterns are supported by rising incomes in developing economies, while innovation in tech is lowering barriers to enabling service growth. As the industrial sector makes up a lower share of trade and economic activity, the service sector is projected to make up 77% of global GDP by 2035.
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