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Planes, toys and tourism: What is US-China trade made of?

[WASHINGTON] The United States and China last year exchanged US$737.1 billion in goods and services. Below is a breakdown on trade between the world's top two economies.


China is the third-largest export market for US goods after Canada and Mexico. It is also the third-ranked buyer of US services after Britain and Canada.

The United States and Europe together are by far the largest buyers of Chinese goods.


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In 2018, the United States recorded a trade deficit of US$378.7 billion with China - a 12.8 per cent increase from the prior year.


Last year, Americans exported US$120.3 billion in goods to the Asian giant - a 7.4 per cent decline from 2017. At the same time, the US imported US$539.5 billion in Chinese-made goods, a 6.7 per cent increase, according to the US Commerce Department.

Major US exports to China include jet aircraft (US$18 billion), machinery (US$14 billion), electrical appliances (US$13 billion), and medical and optical instruments (US$9.8 billion), as well as new and used cars (US$9.4 billion). The United States also exported about US$3.4 billion in soy beans.

The world's largest economy imported a vast array of goods from China, chief among them electrical machinery (US$152 billion), appliances (US$117 billion), furniture (US$35 billion), and toys and sporting items (US$27 billion), as well as televisions, mobile telephones, computers, telecommunications equipment and digital accessories.


The United States actually ran a US$40.4 billion surplus in services with China last year, with American businesses charging for the use of trademarks, software and for transportation, among other areas.

China exports travel as well as research and development services.


Exports to China support more than 1.1 million American jobs, according to the US-China Chamber of Commerce.

Some critics, including White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, argue that offshoring of manufacturing has cost the United States millions of jobs since China became a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001.

But most economists say the relationship between trade and jobs is less clear: the United States is now at or near full employment despite running a record trade deficit with China.

The dilemma is that jobs lost tend to be concentrated in particular factories and towns, while jobs gained are spread throughout the US economy.


Most US states have seen their exports to China rise over the last decade, even though the trade war caused sales to drop last year, according to the US-China Chamber of Commerce.

For 44 of the 50 US states, China is a top-five export market for goods and services.


Washington on Friday plans to more than double tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports, including electrical machinery, television equipment, furniture, autos and plastics.


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