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Commerce, Foreign Trade
trade imbalance, precision instruments, United States economy, manufactured goods, economic prosperity
The United States is the world’s leading trading nation, with total merchandise exports amounting to $781.1 billion, and imports to $1.26 trillion. Despite its massive size, large population, and economic prosperity, the United States economy can provide a higher quality of life for consumers and more opportunity for businesses by trading with other nations. Foreign, or international, trade enables the United States to specialize in producing those goods that it is best suited to make given its available resources. It then imports products that other nations can make more efficiently, lowering prices of these goods for U.S. consumers.
Nonagricultural products usually account for 90 percent of the yearly value of exports, and agricultural products account for about 10 percent. Machinery and transportation equipment make up the leading categories of exports, amounting together to one-third of the value of all exports. Other leading exports include electrical equipment, chemicals, precision instruments, and food products. Beginning in the mid-1970s, the nation’s imports of petroleum from the Middle East and manufactured goods from Canada and Asia (especially Japan) created a trade imbalance.
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