The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has released The Year in Trade 2017 – Operation of the Trade Agreements Program (Pub. No. 4817). The 314 page report is the 69th in a series of annual reports submitted to the US Congress under section 163(c) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2213(c)) and its predecessor legislation. Section 163(c) states that “the International Trade Commission shall submit to the Congress at least once a year, a factual report on the operation of the trade agreements program.”

According to the Preface:

This report is one of the principal means by which the ITC provides Congress with factual information on trade policy and its administration for 2017. The trade agreements program includes “all activities consisting of, or related to, the administration of international agreements which primarily concern trade and which are concluded pursuant to the authority vested in the President by the Constitution” and by congressional legislation.

The Executive Summary states:

The level of U.S. imports and U.S. exports of goods and services depends on many factors, including the strength of the U.S. and global economies. Growth in these economies contributes to growth in crossborder trade. The rate of global economic growth increased in 2017, rising from 2.5 percent in 2016 to 3.3 percent in 2017. Economic growth in the United States also increased in 2017: U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.3 percent in 2017, compared to an increase of 1.5 percent in 2016. Overall global economic growth was fueled by growth of advanced economies such as the United States and top trading partners including the European Union (EU), Canada, and Japan. Some emerging and developing economies—e.g., China, South Korea, and Taiwan—also contributed to global economic growth. India and Mexico, however, grew at a slower rate in 2017 than in 2016.

Both U.S. exports and U.S. imports of goods increased in value in 2017. The value of U.S. merchandise exports totaled $1,546.7 billion in 2017, up 6.6 percent ($95.7 billion) from $1,451.0 billion in 2016. The value of U.S. merchandise imports totaled $2,342.9 billion in 2017, up 7.1 percent ($155.1 billion) from $2,187.8 billion in 2016. The largest increase in both U.S. imports and U.S. exports was in energy-related products. In particular, the increase in the value of U.S. imports of crude petroleum was due to the increase in the price of U.S. crude, whereas the increase in the value of U.S. exports of crude was driven by increases in both the price and volume of U.S. crude exports, resulting in a decline in the sector’s deficit to $4.5 billion. The agricultural sector was the only goods sector to experience a trade surplus in 2017, with $5.7 billion more in exports than imports. The trade deficit in the other sectors of the U.S. economy increased. Overall, U.S. imports increased more than U.S. exports in terms of value, resulting in an increase in the U.S. merchandise trade deficit from $752.5 billion in 2016 to $811.2 billion in 2017 (figure ES.1).

U.S. two-way cross-border trade in private services, which excludes exports and imports of government goods and services n.i.e., increased 5.0 percent to $1,277.7 billion in 2017. U.S. exports of private services grew 3.8 percent to $761.7 billion in 2017, while U.S. imports of private services grew 6.8 percent to reach $516.0 billion in 2017. As a result, the U.S. surplus in private services fell from $250.4 billion in 2016 to $245.7 billion in 2017.