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Key Economic Trends

  • The U.S. trade deficit in electronic products grew to a record level in 2010, driven largely by increased imports of computers, peripherals, and parts as well as telecommunications equipment. Although major companies in the industry, such as Dell, HP, Apple, and Cisco, maintain their headquarters in the United States, production is done largely overseas; thus, U.S. demand is linked closely to import levels.
  • U.S. exports of electronic products increased by $16.9 billion (12 percent) in 2010, as global demand for these products recovered in the wake of the recession. The leading destinations for U.S. exports of electronic products were NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, as well as China.
  • Imports of electronic products, which grew by $66.2 billion (21 percent) to $377.6 billion in 2010, were fueled by consumer interest in new mobile devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, and e-readers. As a result, demand for semiconductors—which are essential inputs to these products—rose. The increased prevalence of these devices contributed to surging data traffic, and necessitated investment in telecommunications network equipment—much of which is imported—to increase mobile and fixed broadband capacity.

Trade Shifts from 2009 to 2010

  • U.S. trade deficit: Increased by $49.3 billion (29 percent) to $217.8 billion
  • U.S. exports: Increased by $16.9 billion (12 percent) to $159.9 billion
  • U.S. imports: Increased by $66.2 billion (21 percent) to $377.6 billion

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