The top five overall U.S. containerized cargo trading partners in 2005 were all Asian countries: China (mainland),3 Japan, Hong Kong (categorized as a special administrative region of mainland China), Taiwan, and South Korea. China was the leading containerized merchandise trade partner, accounting for 43 percent of U.S. maritime import TEUs, up from 25 percent just five years ago in 2000. China (mainland) accounted for 19 percent of the export TEUs in 2005, up from 9 percent in 2000 (figure 4a and 4b). During this period, while China’s share grew, the other top five trading partners saw declines in their maritime containerized cargo with the United States. Japan is the second largest trading partner for U.S. oceanborne containerized exports, having been overtaken by China in 2003.
U.S. imports and exports with its major trading partners vary by types of goods, and this affects the types of vessels (e.g. container, dry bulk, general cargo, or tanker) number of port calls, and the seaports used. For example, while most U.S.-Canada maritime trade involves agricultural products, lumber, and petroleum products, most U.S.-German maritime trade involves manufactured products, such as automobiles and machinery. Also, while U.S. maritime imports from Japan were valued at about $7,000 per ton, U.S. exports to Japan were valued at $500 per ton, reflecting differences in the types of goods and the growth in high-value containerized imports to U.S. ports. For example, major U.S. waterborne imports from Japan include passenger cars and parts, and electronic equipment; major U.S. waterborne exports to Japan of containerized imports from our trading partners include agricultural products, machinery and equipment, and chemicals. The major U.S. merchandise imports from Latin America include textile and apparel, machinery, and agricultural products. The major exports include machinery, motor vehicles States and chemicals.