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How Does the Manufacturing Industry Contribute to International Trade?

Tue Oct 04 2016
Written by: Steven Finkelstein, International Trade Macro Analysis Branch
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Manufacturing Day is almost here! This is the time to celebrate manufacturing in all facets of society. In particular, let’s zoom in on international trade and how the manufacturing industry impacts goods that flow in and out of the United States. When it comes to trade in manufactured goods, the U.S. Census Bureau provides a wealth of resources.

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USA Trade Online our free, international trade database, provides customizable reports to the public on a monthly basis. It offers users the ability to break down trade in manufactured goods by various districts, time periods and commodity codes (manufacturing North American Industry Classification System [NAICS] codes start with “3”). After customizing the data selections, you can export the report into a .csv file.

The U.S International Trade in Goods and Services Report offers a standard report titled, Goods by Selected NAICS-based Product Category. This report is the first supplemental exhibit and it offers high-level trade in manufactured goods data on a monthly basis. As the title indicates, this report does not offer trade data by all NAICS codes. To get data on all 6-digit NAICS codes, use the NAICS web application. The Census Bureau assigns NAICS codes based on data collected using the Harmonized System codes.

If you are interested in trade in manufactured goods data at a more granular level, then you might want to check out the Manufacturing and International Trade Report (MITR). MITR is a series of trade exhibits that are released on an annual basis. The data is based on the Annual Survey of Manufacturers and is from official U.S. export and import merchandise trade statistics. This is the only report that presents international trade data at the 7-digit NAICS level, which provides a more in-depth look at each product category.

The International Trade snapshot focuses on the top five domestic exports of manufactured goods over the past several years. These include transportation equipment, chemicals, machinery except electrical, computer and electrical products, and petroleum and coal products. From May 2015 to May 2016, exports of manufactured goods totaled $1,173 billion. Here are the top five domestic exports of manufactured goods categories and their respective totals during this time period:

  1. Transportation equipment: $274.6 billion
  2. Chemicals: $195.0 billion
  3. Computer and electrical products: $127.7 billion
  4. Machinery except electrical: $126.2 billion
  5. Petroleum and coal products: $78.2 billion

Exports of these commodities total in the billions of dollars each year. From autos and light duty motor vehicles (NAICS 336111) in the transportation equipment industry (NAICS 336) to plastics materials and resins (NAICS 325211) in the chemicals industry (NAICS 325), it should come as no surprise that manufacturing is a major driver of the American economy.

For more information about the 2016 Manufacturing Day, October, 7, visit

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