You are here

Trade Topics

The United States is the world's largest country exporter of goods and services. In 2008, U.S. exports totaled $1.84 trillion and accounted for 13 percent of gross national product. The U.S. imported $2.5 trillion in goods and services in 2008, with that figure reflecting in part high volumes and prices of imported petroleum.

The products traded by the United States and the trade related codes of conduct incorporated into trade agreements cover a wide swath of the U.S. economy, touching in one way or another on most Americans. Over one trillion dollars of U.S. goods exports are manufactured products, by far the largest segment of U.S. goods and services exports. Approximately one quarter of these exports are classified as advanced technology products. Agricultural products are also a part of goods trade and totaled $118 billion in 2008. Petroleum, likewise part of goods trade, plays a relatively modest role in U.S. exports ($67 billion), while looming large in U.S. imports ($453 billion).

As in goods, the United States is also a competitive exporter of services, with U.S. cross-border export of services valued at $544 billion, greater than U.S. imports ($405 billion) of services. While the United States receives substantial earnings from the export of travel, passenger fares and other transportation services, and royalties and other license fees, the largest U.S. services export category is other private services, accounting for nearly half of U.S. private service exports in 2008.

Among the more prominent commitments and trade-related codes of conduct are undertakings in the areas of trade and labor, trade and the environment, trade and intellectual property rights (TRIPS), and trade and investment (TRIMS).

Trade and U.S. trade agreements thus affect Americans in our many guises, as consumers, as workers - both unionized and non-unionized, as families, and as manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and services providers of everything from education, to insurance, to industrial engineering, to telecommunications, to computer and information to film and television programming, and to medical services.