Five Facts: On Trade and the U.S. Economy

On Thursday, January 16 the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) passed in the Senate and was sent to President Trump to be signed into law. Here are five essential facts on the U.S. economy and trade:

1. 27.54% of the U.S gross domestic product (GDP) came from trade in 2018. For comparison, trade accounted for 21.06% of GDP in 1994, the year NAFTA was signed. The total of all exports and imports of goods and services was $5.6 trillion in 2018 and $1.5 trillion in 1994.

2. The United States’ top export in 2017 was capital goods at $533 billion. Capital goods, intermediate goods, and consumption goods are broken down and coded according to a system established by the United Nations. The capital goods category includes machines, construction materials, vehicles, oil, and other items used in the production process. The United States uses the three-digit classification called Broad Economic Categories (BEC) to categorize goods based on their intended use.

3. In 2017 exports of goods and services supported 12.7 million U.S. jobs. This accounted for 8.4% of U.S. employment and most of the jobs were concentrated in metro areas. In 2017, California (4.7 million), Texas (3.1 million), and New York (2.5 million) had the most trade-related jobs in the country.

4. The top three trading partners of the United States in 2019 were Mexico, Canada, and China. They accounted for 14.9%, 14.8%, and 13.6% of overall trade respectively. The United States’ top export to Mexico was vehicles ($93 billion), the top export to Canada was mineral fuels ($85 billion), and the top export to China was electrical machinery ($152 billion).

5. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the United States imports about 15% of food for consumers. Imports come from about 200 countries around the world and adhere to strict food safety standards laid out in FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The United States ended 2019 with an agricultural trade surplus of 2.3 billion.


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