US Exports to China: A Boom for Goods, A Bust for Services


Contact in Washington, DC:
Doug Barry ([email protected]; +1-202-429-0340)
Contact in Beijing:
Matt Margulies ([email protected]; +86-10-6512-5854)
WASHINGTON—April 5, 2022—US goods exports to China last year increased 21 percent to $149 billion. But the amount of US services bought by Chinese customers sank by 33 percent in 2020—the most recent year of comprehensive data for US states’ and congressional districts' services exports to China. The decline in services exports reflects the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry, according to a report published today by the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a US trade group of 260 companies including some of the most iconic American brands.
All 50 states exported goods and services to China and benefited from the more than 858,000 American jobs supported by these exports. The bump in goods exports was welcome news, especially in rural states, where Chinese buyers scooped up soybeans, corn, sorghum, pork, and other agricultural commodities. Other sectors seeing sizable exports last year include oil and gas, semiconductors, and medicines and pharmaceuticals. 
However, the services export data reveal just how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for the travel industry and American colleges and universities. From 2019 to 2020, services exports related to personal travel/tourism and business travel from China to the United States declined by a staggering 90 percent each. Education exports to China, which cover tuition paid by Chinese students to American universities and other education-related expenditures, fell by more than 19 percent. 
“The jobs numbers tell a complicated story,” said Craig Allen, president of USCBC. “While strong goods exports bolstered jobs in many communities across the country, the collapse of travel and the service industries tied to it was so severe that the total number of US jobs supported by exports to China fell from the year before.”
“We’re seeing a record number of China-related bills in Congress and a general US political atmosphere toward China that is increasingly negative. No one knows where US-China relations will go from here,” said Allen. “The bottom line is that exports to China help a range of industries across the United States stay profitable and competitive. They also support American jobs, from the tourism industry, to farmers and ranchers in Iowa, to chipmakers in Oregon, and to innovative drugmakers in North Carolina.”


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