U.S. International Trade in Transportation-Related Goods

U.S. International Trade in Transportation-Related Goods

The United States traded $329.9 billion worth (in current dollars1) of transportation-related goods (e.g., cars, trains, boats, and airplanes and their related parts) in 2004 with its partners (figure 11-2). Motor vehicles and automotive parts constituted by far the largest share of U.S. international trade in transportation-related goods ($264.4 billion) in 2004; however, they resulted in a subsector trade deficit of $118.2 billion. Trade in aircraft, spacecraft, and parts ($58.6 billion) generated the largest single surplus of any transportation-related commodity category ($25.6 billion) [1]. This surplus was due to trade with several partners, particularly Japan . The only deficits for aircraft products were with Canada , Brazil , and France , countries that have large aviation manufacturing sectors.

Throughout the 1994 to 2004 period, the United States has had a trade deficit (exports minus imports) in transportation-related goods (figure 11-3). By 2004, the trade deficit reached $92.4 billion. This 2004 deficit resulted from the U.S. trade deficit in motor vehicles and parts, which also accounted for 18 percent of the total U.S. merchandise trade deficit of $653.1 billion that year. Over one-third of the motor vehicles and parts deficit involved U.S. trade with Japan (37 percent), while about one-fifth was with Canada (17 percent) [1].

The United States had a relatively small deficit ($304 million) in trade of ships, boats, and floating structures in 2004, following a $257 million deficit in 2003 [1]. A $470 million trade surplus for railway locomotives and parts was down from $504 million in 2003. This 2004 surplus can largely be attributed to the United States supplying railcars and parts to Canada , the largest U.S. trade partner for rail products.

Trade balances indirectly measure U.S. competitiveness in supplying transportation-related goods globally and indicate the U.S. competitive position in the production, provision, and delivery of these goods compared with other major trading partners.


1. U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, calculations using data from U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. International Trade Commission, Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb, available at http://dataweb.usitc.gov/, as of May 2005. Also see table 11-2b in appendix B.

1 All dollar amounts in this section are in current dollars. While it is useful to compare trends in economic activity using constant or chained dollars to eliminate the effects of price inflation, it is not possible to do so in this instance (see note on the figures and on table 11-2 and table 11-3 in appendix B).