Dec. 9, 2016 The sheer number of products for which the United States depends on imports from China is striking, as shown in the chart below. In 2015, 21.8 percent of U.S. imports came from China. The U.S. pushed for China to join the World Trade Organization in 2001, the year U.S. imports of Chinese goods took off in earnest. Through trade with China, U.S. consumers gained access to cheaper goods because it cost less to make them in China than in the U.S. China became a convenient one-stop shop for building and selling products of all sorts, and an especially strong electronics supply chain emerged in Asia, centered around China.
China also is exposed to the U.S. markets. With the exception of 2013, the U.S. has been the top destination for Chinese exports for over 15 years (in 2013 the U.S. was a close second to Hong Kong). In that period, the size of the Chinese economy, measured in terms of GDP, has increased by a factor of 10, from $1.3 trillion in 2001 to $10.9 trillion in 2015. Last year, 18 percent of China’s exports went to the U.S., a percentage three times bigger than the percentage of exports received by China’s second-largest importer by country, Japan.