US/China Trade Data by the Numbers, and How Exposed Top American Companies Are

With all the news now about tariffs having turned into an outright trade war with China, and with the market’s drop on Friday resembling an even larger drop a week and a half earlier, it’s important to track the moves seen in the major markets about where the tariffs are really going to hurt on the receiving end of imports and on the exiting end of exports.

24/7 Wall St. has tracked multiple Dow and key company moves from Friday and versus 52-week highs, but we have excluded technology because the moves were unilaterally down. It’s pretty simple: if a tech company makes chips and circuits and other parts inside of PCs, tablets, smartphones and other gadgets and equipment that fall within the Internet of Things theme, U.S. tech companies have exposure to China and its trading partners.

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), China was the third-largest U.S. goods export market in 2018 with a total of $120.3 billion in goods sent there. That was actually down by 7.4% versus 2017, but the USTR showed that it was up 72.6% from 2008 and up 527% from 2001 before China joined the World Trade Organization.

Where the proof that China has more to lose than the United States is on how much the U.S. imports in goods that come from China. The tally of $539.5 billion in imported goods from China in 2018 alone was 6.7% higher than in 2017. The U.S. imports from China were shown to be up by 59.7% from 2008 and up 427% from 2001 before China’s WTO accession. All in all, U.S. exports to China account for 7.2% of overall U.S. exports and U.S. imports from China account for 21.2% of total U.S. imports in 2018. That’s $120 billion in goods sent there versus $539.5 billion we have taken in.

As the United States is a services and materials economy rather than a manufacturing economy, U.S. imports of services from China were $18.4 billion versus $58.9 billion in U.S. exports of services to China in 2018. The USTR showed that the leading services exports from the United States to China were in travel, intellectual property (trademark, computer software), and transport sectors. The $41.5 billion in services surplus pales in comparison to the goods deficit of more than $419 billion.

Once you look at the categories of what we import from China and what we export to China, it’s easy to see how and why the stocks of American companies most dependent on China as suppliers or as customers are getting pinched by the stock market. The top import categories from China into the United States in 2018 were as follows: electrical machinery ($152 billion), machinery ($117 billion), furniture and bedding ($35 billion), toys and sports equipment ($27 billion) and plastics ($19 billion).

The top export categories by the United States to China were ranked as follows: aircraft ($18 billion), machinery ($14 billion), electrical machinery ($13 billion), optical and medical instruments ($9.8 billion) and vehicles ($9.4 billion). U.S. total exports of agricultural products to China were $9.3 billion in 2018, with China being the fourth largest agricultural export market, ranked as follows: soybeans ($3.1 billion), cotton ($924 million), hides and skins ($607 million), pork and pork products ($571 million) and coarse grains excluding corn ($530 million).

A.O. Smith Corp. (NYSE: AOS) manufactures residential and commercial gas and electric water heaters, boilers, tanks and water treatment products and is about one-third reliant on China. After a 3.1% drop to $45.01 on Friday, it is now down about 26% from its 52-week high of $61.08 and it still only has a 1.9% dividend yield.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) may have the great iPhone, but just about everything from Apple is manufactured in China, and the company also sells into China. Apple closed down 4.6% at $202.64, and it is now down 13.2% from its 52-week high.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) was the one Dow stock that managed to avoid the selling because of news reports that it was making more progress on the 737 Max. Boeing is still down about 20% from its high, but this remains a 737 Max recovery story despite having sales exposure of jets to China. Still, that USTR note about $18 billion in exposure to aircraft exports should imply Boeing and the company’s 2018 annual report showed direct revenue to China as being $13.7 billion and other Asia revenues (ex-China) of $12.1 billion.

Bunge Ltd. (NYSE: BG) may not be the dominant food company in America with a $7.5 billion market cap, but when you hear soybeans you should think of Bunge. It closed down just over 3% at $53.22 on Friday, but it is down over 26% from its 52-week high.

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