The world has a new number one "trading partner"
But we are no longer the world’s number-one trading partner.
America spent decades at the top of this ranking, fueled by a strong manufacturing sector and a broad middle class (created by a vibrant industrial sector).
But not any more...
China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest trading nation last year as measured by the sum of exports and imports of goods, official figures from both countries show.
U.S. exports and imports of goods last year totaled $3.82 trillion, the U.S. Commerce Department said last week. China’s customs administration reported last month that the country’s trade in goods in 2012 amounted to $3.87 trillion.
That's right: According to government data, China became the world’s leading trading nation in 2012, surpassing the United States. Our own consumption has fueled that; the American economy now takes in much more in terms of goods than it puts out. And most of those goods come from China; in fact, our trade imbalance with Beijing reached an all-time high of $315 billion last year. That country’s remarkable rise has coincided with American manufacturing’s precipitous fall over the last decade.
We’ve documented a change in thinking among economists who believe that where manufacturing goes, so too does research and development (and with it the innovation that drives industrial discovery). We’ve noted the serious concerns American voters have about our huge trade deficit. And we very much hope that President Obama lays out a plan to start creating some of the one million manufacturing jobs he promised in his second term during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
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