Top 10 Fastest, Biggest, Most In U.S. Trade (Without A Peep About China)



Ken Roberts | Forbes

And now, 10 of the “fastest,” “biggest” and “most” in the most recent U.S. trade data.

After all, we could all use a little good news now and again, no?

So, here we go.

A story about U.S. trade with Switzerland, Vietnam, Hungary, Cambodia, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Mexico, Honduras and Saudi Arabia. But not a word about China. I write about, and you heard about that plenty.

1. Fastest-growing top 50 U.S. trade partner, YTD

The winner is Switzerland.

Switzerland, as loyal followers of this column know, is sending record amounts of gold to the United States through JFK International Airport, briefly propelling JFK to rank first among the nation’s more than 450 airports, seaports and border crossings for the first time ever.

Through July, the most recent data available, U.S-Switzerland trade is up 55.13% when compared to the same seven months of 2019. Switzerland, which ranked No. 19 among U.S. trade partners at this time last year, ranks No. 8 now.

2. First runner-up

This might be a stretch but if Switzerland can serve as the hare in this tale, Vietnam could play the tortoise.

I don’t believe any top 50 U.S. trade partner has grown so rapidly over the last two decades as Vietnam, which is steadily becoming a manufacturing-hub alternative to China.

Trade with Vietnam is 43.14 %. Vietnam, which ranked No. 28 at this time last year is, I believe, making its first hard run at ranking among the nation’s top 10. It currently ranks No. 10.

3. Fastest-growing top 50 trade partner, the latest month

The winner is Cambodia.

Cambodia is an apparel dynamo, with a particular strength in backpacks handbags and the like as well as sweaters. women’s skirts and slacks, and baby clothes. The Port of Los Angles dominates that trade but two of the faster-growing ports for Cambodian imports — and 95 % of the trade is an import — are the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Virginia. Cambodia’s trade increased 65.79% from June to July, improving its ranking to No. 47 from No. 57.

4. First runner-up

Hungary is on the higher end of manufacturing, sending motor vehicles, computers, aircraft parts and electric storage batteries to the United States, with Port of Charleston the leading gateway. Its one-month gain was 62.02%, enough to send it from a rank of No. 53 to No. 44.

5. Biggest buyer of U.S. exports, YTD

Sweden takes the prize. U.S. exports to Sweden have increased $378.94 million this year. That’s not a terribly big increase, when you consider U.S. trade has fallen more than $331 billion this year but every little bit helps. Among the top 50 U.S. trade partners, only six nations actually registered an increase in U.S. exports and only one among the top 20. Oil and the category that includes plasma and vaccines are the top two U.S. exports to Sweden.

6. First runner-up

Not far from Sweden is the runner-up, Demark. Its purchases of U.S. products have increased $218.99 million this year. Oil is accounting for just under one-quarter of the value of all U.S. exports there, and has increased sharply this year.

7. Fastest increase in U.S. imports, most recent month

Among the top 25 trade partners, the winner is Australia, with a 99.14% increase, on what we can fairly a rebound. After U.S. imports from Australia topped $1 billion for three consecutive months for the first time ever, in March, April and May, they collapsed in June. In July, those imports topped $1.66 billion. Leading the charge is a category of articles with precious metal, quite possibly platinum.

8. Biggest increase in U.S. imports, most recent month

Mexico lays claim to this prize. Between June and July, the United States’ leading trade partner year-to-date, topping Canada, and second-ranked in July to China, saw its trade increase $3.28 billion. How big an increase is that? The increase alone is larger than the total trade in July for more than 200 countries. That’s right, only 14 nations conducted more trade with the United States in July.

9. Most balanced trade, most recent month

The most balanced trade for the month of July among the top 50 trade partners would be the United States’ trade with Honduras. For every dollar of trade between the United States and the Central American nation, 50 cents was an export, 50 cents an import.

The balance of trade, which looks at the percentage of the total for each, is different from the surplus and deficit calculation, which subtracts imports from exports. While they are not unrelated, they can tell different stories.

10. Most balanced trade, year to date

Looking at those same top 50 trade partners, and looking at the same ratio of exports and imports, there is only one nation at 50-50 and that is Saudi Arabia.

Two things are at play here: First, the United States is buying far less oil from Saudi Arabia that it once did, thanks to a massive increase in domestic production.

Second, they are buying far more military equipment from the United States than they once did, thanks to a massive contract early in the Trump Administration.

Saudi Arabia has slipped from ranking No. 19 five years ago to No. 28 through the first five months of 2020.

There you have it, a potpourri of countries contributing to fast growth, rapid growth and massive growth. From Europe, Asia, Central America, North America.

There are some good stories in South America and Africa as well. I will save those for another day.

Ken Roberts founded in 1998, WorldCity, which has published annual TradeNumbers publications around the country, from Seattle to Miami, Los Angeles to New York and numerous points in between. 

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