America’s Customers Are Mostly Nearby

Planet Money highlights America’s gross exports, and it turns out that proximity matters a lot for this. Our No. 1 export destination is Canada and No. 2 is Mexico, and one can only assume that if Mexico gets richer it will come to loom even larger in the U.S. export picture. A lot of this is driven by the automobile industry—our top four export categories to Canada are car parts, trucks and buses, new and used cars, and petroleum products. Petroleum products leads the way for exports to Mexico followed by car parts. Even if you dig into the numbers for Germany, a famous car exporter, it turns out that passenger cars are the biggest category of their imports from the United States just barely edging out civilian aircraft.

If you want to grow slightly alarmed about the American future, contemplate not just the scale of our trade deficit with China but the fact that our largest export to them by a wide margin is soybeans.