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Common American imports and where they come from

  • Common American imports and where they come from

    America is often celebrated as the land of grit and independence, and many would argue that the country was built on the rugged individualism of its citizens. But the days of a largely self-sufficient U.S. are long gone and like every other nation on the planet, America relies on plenty of goods and services from elsewhere to meet the demands of its populace.

    For example, many fruits and vegetables found on supermarket shelves come from Mexico, a great deal of wine and spirits are shipped from France and other countries, and tons of automobile parts, both small and large, come from Japan.

    Stacker used data from the 2018 U.S. Census import report to identify the countries that are the largest exporters to the U.S. Topping the list are China and Canada, which export goods in a total of 86 out of 142 end-use product categories (51 for China, 35 for Canada). The term end-use refers to the classification system of U.S. exported and imported merchandise based on principal use rather than the physical characters of the merchandise. These end-use codes are assigned by the Commerce Dept.'s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Stacker analyzed the data and reviewed information from the U.S. Trade Representative to determine which imported goods are valued highest and where Americans get the objects of their desires. Each import's data is ranked by highest import value from the U.S. 

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  • Alcoholic beverages, excluding wine

    - Total U.S. imports: $8.6 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. France ($2.5 billion, 28.8%)
    --- #2. United Kingdom ($2 billion, 23.2%)
    --- #3. Mexico ($1.6 billion, 18%)
    --- #4. Ireland ($709.4 million, 8.2%)
    --- #5. Canada ($399.2 million, 4.6%)

    The U.S. imports billions of alcoholic beverages annually, with France being its main import source for hard liquor. Over the years, the U.S. has increased its imports of alcoholic beverages from France and this exchange plays a major role in American-Franco relations.

  • Artwork, antiques, stamps, etc.

    - Total U.S. imports: $14.2 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. France ($3.2 billion, 22.3%)
    --- #2. United Kingdom ($2.5 billion, 17.7%)
    --- #3. China ($2 billion, 14.1%)
    --- #4. Germany ($1 billion, 7.4%)
    --- #5. Italy ($1 billion, 7.2%)

    The U.S. continues its strong import relationship with France through the exchange of artwork, paintings, and other antiques and collectors' items. China is currently third, but trade tensions may be having a negative impact on such imports from the Middle Kingdom.

  • Cane and beet sugar

    - Total U.S. imports: $1.6 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. Mexico ($656.3 million, 41%)
    --- #2. Brazil ($199.5 million, 12.5%)
    --- #3. Guatemala ($126.4 million, 7.9%)
    --- #4. Dominican Republic ($99.1 million, 6.2%)
    --- #5. Colombia ($90.6 million, 5.7%)

    Mexico is the U.S.'s largest supplier of agricultural imports—including sugar. Cane and beet sugar are used for cooking; cane sugar especially is widely used for everything from baking to sweetening coffee and tea.

  • Civilian aircraft

    - Total U.S. imports: $12.3 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. France ($4.5 billion, 36.3%)
    --- #2. Canada ($3.1 billion, 25.1%)
    --- #3. Brazil ($2 billion, 16.2%)
    --- #4. Germany ($1.8 billion, 14.4%)
    --- #5. Israel ($429.5 million, 3.5%)

    The U.S. is a large importer of planes, helicopters, and spacecrafts from France. Other nations, such as Canada and Brazil, also contribute such imports by providing different parts and machinery crucial for these aircrafts to function.

  • Cocoa beans

    - Total U.S. imports: $961.2 million
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. Cote d'Ivoire ($608.1 million, 63.3%)
    --- #2. Ecuador ($123.5 million, 12.8%)
    --- #3. Ghana ($115.3 million, 12%)
    --- #4. Dominican Republic ($47.1 million, 4.9%)
    --- #5. Papua New Guinea ($17.3 million, 1.8%)

    The import of cocoa beans has seen a major drop over the past few years. This is largely due to deforestation in Western Africa, which is decreasing the overall production of cocoa beans.

  • Computers

    - Total U.S. imports: $77.7 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. China ($47.3 billion, 60.9%)
    --- #2. Mexico ($24.9 billion, 32.1%)
    --- #3. Taiwan ($2.2 billion, 2.8%)
    --- #4. Vietnam ($748 million, 1%)
    --- #5. Germany ($343.7 million, 0.4%)

    China and the U.S. are major trading partners, with almost $660 billion in two-way trade in goods. However, trade tensions are having an impact, and as a result, other nations, such as Mexico, are seeing an increase in demand for goods such as computers.

  • Copper

    - Total U.S. imports: $6 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. Chile ($3 billion, 49.6%)
    --- #2. Canada ($1.8 billion, 29.1%)
    --- #3. Mexico ($697.8 million, 11.6%)
    --- #4. Peru ($123.9 million, 2.1%)
    --- #5. Zambia ($120.8 million, 2%)

    Copper is used in almost all electrical equipment and is extremely useful and beneficial in everyday life, in ways people may not always realize. The U.S. mainly imports copper from Chile, and although it exports more goods to Chile than Chile exports to the U.S., the relationship is strong.

  • Crude oil

    - Total U.S. imports: $157.1 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. Canada ($60.8 billion, 38.7%)
    --- #2. Saudi Arabia ($21.4 billion, 13.6%)
    --- #3. Mexico ($14.4 billion, 9.2%)
    --- #4. Iraq ($11.8 billion, 7.5%)
    --- #5. Venezuela ($10.4 billion, 6.6%)

    Canada is the top exporter of crude oil to the U.S. and is the fourth-largest producer and exporter of oil in the world. The U.S. maintains strong relations with Canada and because it is just next door, goods such as oil are easily exchanged. Saudi Arabia is the second top oil exporter to the U.S., albeit at a significantly lower level.

  • Dairy products and eggs

    - Total U.S. imports: $2.1 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. Italy ($333.7 million, 15.6%)
    --- #2. New Zealand ($265 million, 12.4%)
    --- #3. Ireland ($225.6 million, 10.5%)
    --- #4. France ($224.5 million, 10.5%)
    --- #5. Canada ($130 million, 6.1%)

    The top U.S. import from Italy is dairy products and eggs, specifically cheese, plus preserved meats. The Parmesan or Pecorino Romano you sprinkle on your pasta doesn't come from here for the most part.

  • Fruits, frozen juices

    - Total U.S. imports: $19.4 billion
    - Top countries imported from:
    --- #1. Mexico ($7.3 billion, 37.7%)
    --- #2. Chile ($2.2 billion, 11.4%)
    --- #3. Guatemala ($1.3 billion, 6.5%)
    --- #4. Peru ($1.2 billion, 5.9%)
    --- #5. Costa Rica ($1.1 billion, 5.8%)

    Mexico is a large exporter of fruits, most notably to the U.S. In fact, its exports of fruit and juices to America far outstrips those of any other country.

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