Top US Import Partners

I noted this morning that imports are less important to the American economy than people generally realize. Other developed countries tend to be much smaller and more specialized and so trade on both the imports and exports side is much more important to them. Americans mostly trade with other Americans. But when we do import, who do we import from?

Here’s the Census’ figures on what’s happened so far in 2010:

That there’s a lot of China should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the news. Indeed, I’d say following the news probably leads to a mistake overestimation of how important China is to the US economy. I’d say China accounts for much more than 20 percent of total trade-related media coverage, even though the PRC is just 18.5 percent of our imports and less than 17 percent of our total trade. By contrast Canada is systematically under-covered in the American media. This is especially true when you consider that Canada-based business establishments are much more likely to be directly competing with US-based ones.