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Yesterday the Bureau of Economic Analysis released data on the United States’ balance of trade in 2014. The US posted a deficit in its trade of goods and services in 2014 valued at $505 billion, up from $476 billion in 2013. The increase reflects a $35 billion increase in the goods deficit mitigated by a $7 billion surplus in traded services. From the BEA’s report:

Imports of goods increased $77.5 billion to $2,371.9 billion in 2014. …

  • Capital goods increased $36.8 billion.
    • Other industrial machines increased $6.5 billion.
    • Telecommunications equipment increased $4.3 billion.
  • Consumer goods increased $25.2 billion.
    • Pharmaceutical preparations increased $8.0 billion.
    • Cell phones and other household goods increased $5.8 billion. …

The deficit with China increased $23.9 billion to $342.6 billion in 2014. Exports increased $2.3 billion to $124.0 billion and imports increased $26.2 billion to $466.7 billion.

The US’ $342 billion trade deficit with China in 2014 set yet another record high, as it has nearly every year since the bilateral trade gap surpassed that with Japan in 2000. And this source says that the deficit could increase yet more, as “[e]conomists expect the deficit to widen further in 2015 as strong growth in the United States boosts imports, while weak growth overseas and a rising dollar continue to depress exports.”

The United States increased its imports from China across a swath of product categories last year, with fertilizer imports more than doubling in 2014 over 2013. This is reflected in the goods which experienced the greatest gains in imported value during 2014. Those experiencing the greatest losses are similarly diverse.

US imports from China with greatest percentage increase in 2014

  1. Fertilizers (HS code 31); up 147 percent over 2013; $779 million total value imported in 2014
  2. Meat (02); 91 percent; $25 million
  3. Tin (80); 82 percent; $107 million
  4. Railway stock and traffic signal equipment (86); 68 percent; $783 million
  5. Iron and steel (72); 68 percent; $2.6 billion

US imports from China with greatest percentage decrease in 2014

  1. Arms and ammunition (93); down 24 percent; $162 million
  2. Tobacco (24); 18 percent; $13 million
  3. Lead (78); 18 percent; $5 million
  4. Photographic or cinematographic goods (37); 16 percent; $37 million
  5. Silk (50); 15 percent; $38 million

In terms of total value, however, electronics and machinery imports from China made increased the most, up over $14 billion from 2013. These two categories account for half of all products entering the US market from China. Although the United States imported $1 billion less in laptops and tablets during 2014, cell phone imports increased to $42 billion, up $4 billion from the year prior. Likewise, more imported automotive parts arrived from China, up to $8.3 billion from $7 billion in 2013.

China continues to supply the United States with a large proportion of its imported toys and sporting equipment (82 percent), furniture (49 percent), and footwear (66 percent). China’s share of US footwear imports, however, declined in 2014, losing out to manufacturers in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, and Cambodia.

It remains to be seen if these trends will continue in 2015.