Aug 15, 2019 08:01 PM

Charts of the Day: China No Longer No. 1 for U.S. as Trade Row Bites

China’s massive export machine and its hunger for imported commodities like soybeans made it the U.S.’ top trading partner for goods from 2015 to 2018, data from the U.S. Census Bureau show. But the deepening tariff war between the world’s biggest and second-biggest economies knocked China off its perch in the first half of 2019 as bilateral exports and imports slumped.

China fell to third place in the U.S.’ trade table in the January-June period, with the total value of goods bought and sold between the two countries falling to $289.7 billion, behind the $311.5 billion recorded with Mexico and the $305.6 billion with Canada.



The U.S. exported $54.9 billion worth of goods to China in the first half of 2019, an 18.1% decline from the $67.1 billion reported for the same period last year, the U.S. Census Bureau data show. Meanwhile, imports from China fell 12.2% to $234.8 billion.

For 2018 as a whole, the U.S. imported $539.68 billion worth of goods from China and exported $120.15 billion to the mainland, according to the bureau. U.S. agricultural exports to China, including animal feed, food and beverages, sank to $8.16 billion, less than half the $18.27 billion it sold in 2017, while China’s share of total U.S. agriculture exports crashed to 6.13% from 13.76% in 2017. The value of soybean exports, a key target of Beijing’s retaliation against Washington’s tariffs, plunged 74.4% after China slapped a 25% levy on imports and traders periodically stopped buying.


The U.S. began imposing tariffs specifically on Chinese imports in July 2018, although it had included China in a broader campaign against imports of steel, aluminum and solar panels that started in the first quarter of that year. So far, the U.S. has slapped punitive tariffs of 25% on a total of $250 billion worth of Chinese products. On Aug. 1, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose levies of 10% on a further $300 billion of goods starting from Sept. 1, although his administration announced on Wednesday that tariffs on some goods will be delayed until mid-December.

Contact reporter Liu Jiefei (

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