U.S. Trade with Major Trading Partners

U.S. world trade has grown steadily over the past decade. In 2017, the United States exported $2.4 trillion in goods and services and imported $2.9 trillion. Since 2009, when trade flows declined sharply in the midst of the financial crisis, U.S. exports have grown—in nominal terms—48.5%, while U.S. imports have grown 47.6%. More broadly, since 1960, trade relative to gross domestic product (GDP) has risen markedly. U.S. exports as a percentage of GDP expanded from 5% in 1960 to over 12% of GDP in 2017, while U.S. imports expanded from 4% to over 15% of GDP. China was the top U.S. trading partner in 2017, with $711.7 billion in total goods and services trade, followed by Canada ($679.9 billion), Mexico ($622.1 billion), Japan ($286.1 billion), and Germany ($239.8 billion). China was the largest source of U.S. imports, while Canada was the largest destination for U.S. exports. However, considering the 28 member states of the European Union (EU) as a single trading partner, the EU is both the largest U.S. export destination ($528.2 billion) and the largest source of U.S. imports ($629.4 billion). The majority of U.S. global trade—approximately 65%—is with countries that do not have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. The changing dynamics and composition of U.S. trade pose both opportunities and challenges for U.S. trade relations. These developments have intensified congressional interest in U.S. trade policy and heightened congressional demand for comparative analysis of U.S. bilateral trade flows. In the coming months, Congress may face matters such as shaping U.S. trade policy to reflect the changing composition of U.S. trade; enhancing the competitive position of U.S. industries, firms, and workers; promoting access to new foreign markets for U.S. businesses; and addressing new trade tensions, barriers, and other issues raised by the growing role of emerging economies in the global economy. In addition, questions affecting U.S. trade trends could arise as the Trump Administration renegotiates existing FTAs and pursues new ones, and Congress debates and potentially ratifies them. Congress may closely monitor negotiations on other trade agreements, as well as developments at the World Trade Organization.