U.S.-China Trade Soared Above Pandemic Recession Levels In October 2020

The combined value of goods traded between the U.S. and China rocketed up during October 2020 to reach the fifth-highest total on record, well above coronavirus pandemic recession levels.

The following chart tracks the combined value of trade between the U.S. and China from January 2008 through October 2020.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Combined Value of U.S. Exports to China and Imports from China, January 2008 - October 2020

With January 2020's 'Phase 1' trade deal, the volume of trade between the U.S. and China should have begun recovering in February. Instead, it plunged through March 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic starting in China before starting to recover. In October 2020, the volume of trade is $10.5 billion higher than October 2019, as China has significantly ramped up its imports of U.S.-produced agricultural goods, led by soybeans.

Meanwhile, a gap of $10.6 billion has opened between the trailing year average of trade between the two nations and a 'No Coronavirus Pandemic' counterfactual through October 2020. This is the value of the loss of trade that is attributable to the pandemic.

Looking forward, with a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in much of the U.S., we anticipate the recent upward momentum in the U.S.' imports of Chinese produced goods will fall in the months ahead. This change is a direct consequence of the new lockdown orders that several states and local jurisdictions within the U.S. are imposing on the operations of businesses, which also include the return of stay-at-home orders for residents in some.


Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. China / U.S. Foreign Exchange Rate. G.5 Foreign Exchange Rates. Accessed 4 December 2020.

U.S. Census Bureau. Trade in Goods with China. Accessed 4 December 2020.

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