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Where America sends its planes and 25 other manufacturing exports

  • Where America sends its planes and 25 other manufacturing exports

    Export numbers across the board in the United States have declined this year, losing $1.8 billion between August and September of 2019 alone. Soybean exports dropped by $1 billion, along with vehicles, engines, and other automotive parts. The overall declines are in no small part due to a trade war with China and other tariffs imposed on exporting goods: More than 30 states saw double-digit slumps in Chinese exports through September 2019.

    As America's export landscape continues to evolve, Stacker looked at 2018 data from the Census Bureau to curate a gallery of 26 major manufacturing products produced in the United States and where those products get exported to. The data tell a story of exactly where the products are going, how much is being exported, what percentage of U.S. exports that is, and how much money the U.S. makes off each product. You’ll also learn which companies are among the largest exporters and how their particular industry has been faring over the last few years—whether sales are down or up, and why.

    Read on to discover where the United States’ main manufacturing exports are heading, like air conditioning machines, which account for $2.7 billion of the country’s total exports. You’ll also discover some of the biggest players for those specific exports and be able to unpack just why so many people think it’s illegal to export cars out of the United States. 

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  • Fertilizers

    - U.S. total exports: $4.2 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Canada ($1.1 billion, 25.5% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Brazil ($968.4 million, 23.3%)
    --- #3. Mexico ($288.7 million, 6.9%)
    --- #4. China ($248.5 million, 6.0%)
    --- #5. Australia ($228.2 million, 5.5%)

    Demand for every type of fertilizer has increased each year since 2014. However, farmers have struggled over the last year with exporting fertilizer because of tariffs and the in-flux North American trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. That struggle is reflected in numbers; Mosaic, the largest fertilizer manufacturer in the United States, recently saw its stock fall more than 6% after a third-quarter loss.

  • Plastics and articles thereof

    - U.S. total exports: $66.6 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Mexico ($17.9 billion, 26.8% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Canada ($13.9 billion, 20.8%)
    --- #3. China ($5.7 billion, 8.6%)
    --- #4. Belgium ($2.7 billion, 4.1%)
    --- #5. Japan ($1.9 billion, 2.8%)

    Plastic exports are at an all-time low right now, partly due to stringent import restrictions on the material in different countries around the world, particularly India. Dow Chemical is both the largest producer and leading exporter of plastics in the United States, focusing on performance plastics—a type of plastic that can withstand volatile environments.

  • Tools and metal cutlery

    - U.S. total exports: $4.8 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Canada ($1.4 billion, 28.0% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Mexico ($933.9 million, 19.3%)
    --- #3. Germany ($249.3 million, 5.2%)
    --- #4. China ($194.0 million, 4.0%)
    --- #5. United Kingdom ($174.9 million, 3.6%)

    According to IndustryWeek’s Michael Collins, the tool and cutlery markets have been declining for decades and are probably unsalvageable. Since 1965, the American export market for tools has decreased by 23%, down to 5% of the world market for tools. Oneida, a cutlery company that’s been in business since 1880, is a major exporter in the market.

  • Nuclear reactors and fuel

    - U.S. total exports: $215.8 million
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Taiwan ($44.3 million, 20.5% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. United Arab Emirates ($35.9 million, 16.7%)
    --- #3. Spain ($29.1 million, 13.5%)
    --- #4. Sweden ($25.4 million, 11.8%)
    --- #5. France ($17.5 million, 8.1%)

    For the past 15 years, nuclear reactor needs have remained steady even though many nuclear power plants have shut down. Modifying currently operating plants to take on more power-generating capacity has kept the reactor market strong. General Electric, in collaboration with Japanese company Hitachi, is the largest producer of nuclear reactors in the country, and the third largest in the world.

  • Steam turbines

    - U.S. total exports: $313.4 million
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. United Kingdom ($36.9 million, 11.8% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Mexico ($21.7 million, 6.9%)
    --- #3. Canada ($20.6 million, 6.6%)
    --- #4. Iraq ($18.9 million, 6.0%)
    --- #5. Brazil ($16.6 million, 5.3%)

    As long as gas, oil, and nuclear power plants are necessary around the world to generate power, we’ll need steam turbines—so the market isn’t in a whole lot of trouble at the moment. In fact, they can be so in demand that there are occasionally illegal shipments of turbine parts, like what happened in July 2019 when Turbine Services Ltd. was searched by federal officials.

  • Turbojets, turbo propellers, gas turbines

    - U.S. total exports: $9.0 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Mexico ($1.1 billion, 12.5% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Canada ($712.5 million, 8.0%)
    --- #3. United Kingdom ($573.2 million, 6.4%)
    --- #4. Japan ($556.8 million, 6.2%)
    --- #5. Singapore ($531.3 million, 5.9%)

    The gas turbine market is failing, decreasing year after year—even as other jet engine components continue to have a strong export rate, though with increased concern due to tariffs. GE Aviation has a legacy of being one of the best in this business; it created the first jet engine and today supplies the major aircraft companies with turbojets, turbo propellers, and gas turbines.

  • Air conditioning machines

    - U.S. total exports: $2.7 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Canada ($1.3 billion, 47.1% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Mexico ($515.3 million, 19.3%)
    --- #3. United Kingdom ($74.2 million, 2.8%)
    --- #4. Saudi Arabia ($67.1 million, 2.5%)
    --- #5. China ($56.2 million, 2.1%)

    The market for global exports of air conditioning machines from the United States is up this year by about $100 million—but it’s the first increase since 2015. Regardless, the market continues to slowly increase, boosted by international sales from companies like CB Sales International, one of the leading exporters of HVAC systems.

  • Bulldozers, graders, scrapers

    - U.S. total exports: $5.2 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Canada ($2.9 billion, 55.9% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Australia ($312.3 million, 6.1%)
    --- #3. Mexico ($253.8 million, 4.9%)
    --- #4. Belgium ($197.4 million, 3.8%)
    --- #5. Germany ($111.7 million, 2.2%)

    As of 2016, heavy construction equipment like bulldozers, graders, and scrapers were exporting at an eight-year low. It’s because of a combination of things: lasting recession effects, increased foreign competition, and cheaper foreign products. Caterpillar, a producer for bulldozers and other construction equipment, doesn’t expect to meet its projected earnings this year thanks to global economic uncertainty and Chinese competition.

  • Electric motors and generators

    - U.S. total exports: $4.1 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Mexico ($1.1 billion, 26.9% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Canada ($849.7 million, 21.0%)
    --- #3. United Kingdom ($210.1 million, 5.2%)
    --- #4. China ($203.7 million, 5.0%)
    --- #5. Germany ($188.8 million, 4.7%)

    More than 30 million electric motors are sold annually and growth of the market continues to increase; it’s expected to go up another several billion dollars by 2021. Regal Beloit, in Wisconsin, is a star in this industry—almost every variable-speed residential HVAC system in the country has a Regal Beloit motor.

  • Electric storage batteries

    - U.S. total exports: $3.7 billion
    - Top countries exported to:
    --- #1. Canada ($1.0 billion, 27.6% of U.S. exports)
    --- #2. Mexico ($707.1 million, 19.0%)
    --- #3. Netherlands ($397.4 million, 10.7%)
    --- #4. United Kingdom ($220.3 million, 5.9%)
    --- #5. China ($145.4 million, 3.9%)

    Electric storage batteries are critical as we move to more renewable energy sources; a windmill, for example, can’t bank up energy unless there’s a place to store it—hence the battery. Panasonic is one of the major U.S. battery makers and exporters, producing mostly lithium batteries with a variety of shapes and sizes.

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