Submitted by Taps Coogan on the 13th of March 2019 to The Sounding Line.
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The following infographic, from Visual Capitalist and based on data from JOC, shows the largest importers and exporters in the US, based on the volume of exports. The units, TUE, refer to the volume equivalent of a twenty foot shipping container.
While recognizable household names like Boeing and Caterpillar are some of the largest US exporters in terms of the value of their products, in terms of volume, the largest exporters in the US are much less familiar. Most deal with recycling, paper, and agricultural commodities, with America Chung Nam, International Paper, and Ralison International topping the list.
The dirty truth is that America’s largest export (by volume) is actually its recycling. Until recently, roughly 40% of America’s recycling was sent to China, where it was further processed into usable material. However, in January 2018 China stopped accepting most forms of US recycling. That has led to a scramble to find other markets to accept the material. As the following chart from Statista details, Malaysia and Thailand have taken up some of the slack, but a shortfall still exists and much has been incinerated.You will find more infographics at Statista
On the other hand, the largest importers are ‘big box’ stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s as well as consumer electronic brands like Samsung and LG. As Visual Capitalist notes, Walmart is the biggest importer in the country and brings the equivalent of 50 of the largest containers ships full of goods into the country every year. Dole Foods is the only importer in the top ten that isn’t a big box store or a consumer electronics makers.
It is a sorry state of affairs that America’s biggest imports, by volume, are cheap consumer goods, mostly from China, and its largest exports are essentially the empty boxes and containers those goods came in.
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