Majority of Congressional Districts Export More to China Than to Any Other Market

Erin Ennis

Almost 60 percent of US congressional districts exported more to China in 2012 than they did to the rest of the world, at a time when US global exports declined overall, according to the US-China Business Council’s latest report.

Released on July 31, 2013, “US Congressional District Exports to China: 2003-2012” shows that the growth in US exports to China was broad based and widely shared among congressional districts around the United States. In 2012 – the latest full-year data available – 262 congressional districts (60 percent) increased exports to China. Between 2003 and 2012, 401 congressional districts (92 percent) experienced triple-digit growth. Growth in exports to China also outpaced growth in the majority of districts’ exports to other markets. Out of 435 districts, 249 districts had higher growth in exports to China in 2012 than they did to the rest of the world.

The district export report is part of USCBC’s ongoing work to educate the US Congress and the general public about the importance of trade with China to the US economy. China imported nearly $110 billion in US goods in 2012 and remained the United States’ third-largest export market. In the decade between 2003 and 2012, total US exports to China rose 294 percent, an increase of nearly $81 billion. The dollar increase was more than the rise in US exports to the rest of the world for the same period.

As its economy and middle class continue to expand, China will continue to play a significant role as an export market for a wide selection of US goods. In 2012, US exports to China supported a broad range of American sectors, including crop production, transportation equipment, computers and electronics, and chemicals. US companies and producers are competitive in the global market place, and increasingly important and competitive suppliers to growing markets, like China’s. Although annual growth in US exports to China slowed to 6.5 percent last year due to China’s slowing economy, annual average growth over the last decade was nearly 17 percent.

The report also notes that more can be done to increase US exports to China. Though it continues to be the third-largest destination for US exports, the United States’ share of imports into China has fallen to 7 percent from 10 percent in 2000. In 2012, the United States was the fourth-largest source of Chinese imports, after the European Union, Japan, and South Korea. While the United States in 2012 surpassed Taiwan in terms of imports to China, it remains significantly behind other international competitors. 

To address this decline in market share, USCBC recommends that US policy makers consider developing a new US trade objective: to reclaim a 10 percent share of China’s imports by 2015. Such an increase would help US companies provide innovative products and services to China, boosting overall US sales and global competitiveness.

To help American companies accomplish this goal, policy makers in Washington and around the country should seek to improve the capacity and resources of US trade agencies and organizations that assist American companies to export, such as the Foreign Commercial Service, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, as well as state and local initiatives help US companies engage in foreign markets and  support business development opportunities between American and Chinese companies.

China can also do more to boost imports of US goods. USCBC released recommendations earlier in 2013 for actions the Chinese government should take to increase imports of US consumer goods, agricultural products, and other goods.

Export Controls and Sanctions Tracker

Export controls and sanctions continue to be an important economic tool in each US administration’s China strategy. The export controls and sanctions tracker lists all active Commerce, Treasury, and State Department export controls aimed at China.