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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

In general, the United States has reduced its trade barriers and coordinates with others in the global economic system. Historically, the U.S. has taken the view that trade promotes economic growth, social stability, democracy and better international relations. However, President Donald Trump has called these principles into question. The U.S. is the world's largest importer and second largest exporter of goods, as well as the largest importer and exporter of commercial services. Nevertheless, trade represents less than 30% of the country’s GDP.

The U.S. trade balance is structurally negative and the deficit has further worsened due to the economic recovery. In 2016, imports declined faster than exports, leading the deficit to drop from USD 745 billion to USD 736 billion. However, imports picked up rapidly during the first five months of 2017, with a trade deficit standing at USD 330 billion (as opposed to USD 302 billion in the same period last year) (United States Census Bureau). The growing strength of the dollar has made U.S. exports less competitive globally. Industrial exports and oil exports, in particular, have been hampered.

The main trade partners of the United States include fellow NAFTA states Mexico and Canada, China (which has a large trade surplus in relation to the U.S.) and the European Union. However, trade with Mexico has been put at risk by President's Trump's threat to install a 20% tax on Mexican imports. Since 2013, the United States has been in the process of negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union. In January 2017, the U.S. withdrew from the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which had been signed by former President Barack Obama.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,336,5242,329,0602,412,5472,307,9462,251,351
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,545,7031,579,5931,620,5321,504,9141,454,607
Imports of Services (million USD) 424,152438,366453,265469,110503,053
Exports of Services (million USD) 633,576664,948690,127690,061752,411
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 2.21.14.44.6n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.43.54.30.1n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 17.116.616.615.4n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 13.613.613.712.6n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -741,172-702,243-752,169-762,565-749,927
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 30.730.230.228.0n/a

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2016
Canada 18.3%
Mexico 15.9%
China 8.0%
Japan 4.4%
United Kingdom 3.8%
Germany 3.4%
South Korea 2.9%
Netherlands 2.8%
Hong Kong 2.4%
France 2.2%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2016
China 21.4%
Mexico 13.2%
Canada 12.6%
Japan 6.0%
Germany 5.2%
South Korea 3.2%
United Kingdom 2.5%
France 2.1%
India 2.1%
Italy 2.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 

Main Products

1,453.2 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 4.4%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.7%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.9%
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 2.4%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 1.8%
Instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, incl. scintigraphic apparatus, other electro-medical apparatus and sight-testing instruments, n.e.s. 1.8%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 1.6%
Soya beans, whether or not broken 1.6%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 1.5%
Diamonds, whether or not worked, but not mounted or set (excl. unmounted stones for pick-up styluses, worked stones, suitable for use as parts of meters, measuring instruments or other articles of chapter 90) 1.3%
2,249.7 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 7.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4.8%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.9%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 3.0%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 3.0%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 2.7%
Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, incl. line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof 2.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 1.8%
Electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies 1.4%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 1.1%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 
 
 

Main Services

497.3 bn USD of services exported in 2013
Transportation
35.09%
Financial services
33.81%
Government services
9.86%
Computer and information services
7.74%
Insurance services
6.47%
Communications services
5.69%
Construction services
1.04%
Cultural and recreational services
0.29%
Travel
n/a%
Other business services
n/a%
Royalties and license fees
n/a%
699.7 bn USD of services imported in 2013
Transportation
25.94%
Other business services
25.48%
Insurance services
14.42%
Royalties and license fees
11.15%
Computer and information services
7.31%
Government services
7.24%
Financial services
5.34%
Communications services
2.09%
Construction services
0.76%
Cultural and recreational services
0.26%
Travel
n/a%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
American Dollar (USD)
Exchange Rate Regime
Floating exchange regime.
Level of Currency Instability
Very limited exchange risk since the U.S. dollar is a major world currency.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20122013201420152016
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.810.780.780.940.94

Source: CIA – The World Factbook - Latest available data.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2007
Main International Economic Cooperation
The United States has free trade agreements in force with 20 countries.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
Yes

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
  • Entry Manifest (CBP Form 7533) or Application and Special Permit for Immediate Delivery (CBP Form 3461) or other form of merchandise release required by the port director,
  • Evidence of right to make entry,
  • Commercial invoice or a pro forma invoice when the commercial invoice cannot be produced,
  • Packing lists, if appropriate,
  • Other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility.

    Click Here for more information about documents needed for imports in the USA
Free Zones
In the United States, free trade zones are called foreign trade zones. For a list of all the foreign trade zones, consult the Foreign Trade Zones Board.
For Further Information
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
US department of Commerce
US State Department Services and consular affairs.
Non Tariff Barriers
Farm products are subject to both FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and USDA (U.S. Agricultural Department) rules.
- Dairy products require an import license. Quotas are in place. Products must conform to the strict sanitary and labelling rules and a description of ingredients is also required.
- Most fruits, vegetables and hazelnuts are subject to import licenses. The APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) analyses the risks of disease.
- Meat-based products can only be imported via ports with checking sanitary installations authorised by the USDA. The APHIS examines all goods.

Nearly 20% of all imports into the U.S. are food and food products. In 2002, Congress passed the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Bioterrorism Act), which, among other things, required the FDA to develop two systems: one to support the registration of facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food products intended for consumption in the United States and one to receive prior notice before food is imported or offered for import into the United States. Prior notice must be submitted electronically at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Manufactured goods should also conform to American standards, which imply potential additional costs. Electric equipment should be systematically guaranteed by a third party. There are no less than 2,700 municipal or federal authorities able to distribute safety certifications and they vary from state to state. As there is no central source of information about these normative aspects, it is imperative to enquire beforehand with the help of an importer.

Whatever the nature of the product, documentation is important- especially in terms of the invoice and certificate of origin. The documentary formalities are notably very heavy for textile imports (all products comprising above 5% in the composition of the textile product should be listed very precisely). The labelling rules can also generate substantial additional costs.

The U.S. applies a certain number of embargoes, forbidding the import of products manufactured with components originating from several countries. For a list of countries for which the U.S. applies an embargo (full or partial), visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury's website.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Please click here to see all the USA commercial disagreements have been registered with the WTO.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
USA’s commercial policy, as seen by the WTO
Barriers to exchanges
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

Learn more about How to Export to the United States on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Integration in the International Standards Network
The ANSI is a member of:
- The International Standard Organisation (ISO);
- The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC);
- The International Accreditation Forum (IAF)
- The U.S. member of the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC)
- The Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT)
- The Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC)
- Via the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), a member of the Inter American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC).
Obligation to Use Standards
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private, non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. private-sector led voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems.
Classification of Standards
Five Standards Panel managed by the American National Standards Institute:
- the ANSI Biofuels Standards Panel (ANSI-BSP)
- the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel
- the ANSI Homeland Security Standards Panel
- the ANSI Nanotechnology Standards Panel
- the Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel

The classification code is: ANSI + 1 letter showing the technical area + digit number and the year.

Assessment of the System of Standardization
Respect of voluntary standardization is highly regarded in United States; it can increase partnership with other companies, sales potential on the market and the acceptance of the product by consumers.
Online Consultation of Standards
The ANSI webstore or the search engine NSSN.
Certification Organisations
Directory of ANSI Accredited Certification Programmes for Product Certifiers
Directory of Accredited Telecommunication Certification Body Programmes
Directory of ANSI Accredited Certification Programmes for SQF Standards
Directory of ANSI Accredited Certification Programmes for SFI and PEFC Standards
Associations of Standards Users
Standards Developing Associations

 

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Last Updates: November 2017