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Explore all $506 billion in goods that the US imported from China in 2017

David Yanofsky
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation during a White House ceremony to establish tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2018.

US president Donald Trump apparently isn’t done implementing protectionist trade measures. This week, his administration is expected to announce $30 billion in new duties on the US’s largest trading partner, China.

Unlike the mostly tax-free treatment of the US’s next largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico, $207.9 billion worth of the $505.6 billion of goods that China sent to the US in 2017 was subject to some level of tariff. The US collected $13.5 billion in tariffs on Chinese products last year, before assessing punitive measures such as anti-dumping taxes.

How to read these charts

Quartz gathered import data from the US Census Bureau comprising 11,741 hierarchical product categories, the amount imported, and the tax collected. Every product the US buys at least $1 million worth from China is shown below through the lens of the Harmonized System, the international standard for categorizing and taxing traded goods.

The data are plotted along two axes: how much money the US sends to China for those products, and what portion of all international purchases come from China. Policy makers consult both of these factors when determining which products or categories to levy duties upon.


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Products and categories with $1 million or more in US imports.



The US imported worth of Chinese goods from this product group in 2017 and collected . Of all the goods in this product group, the US imported (by value) from China.

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There are a lot of products that the US relies on China for almost exclusively. High taxes on those would just be passed on to Americans. On the flip side, there are also products for which the US has other suppliers, despite buying a lot from China. Those are items that could be more easily sourced from other countries in the event that tariffs get applied.

Here are some examples

High value, high dependence



A basic and nearly ubiquitous building block of consumer products today, nearly all of the LED lights that the US imports come from China, accounting for $1.48 billion in imports. The duty leveled comes out to about 2%.

High value, high dependence

Greeting cards


The US imported $425 million worth of greeting cards from China in 2017, all of which it let in duty free. Hallmark says that a majority of its cards are made in America, but when US companies did print abroad, China supplied 94% of them.

High value, high dependence

Plastic disposable gloves


97% of the US’s imports of seamless plastic disposable gloves for non-medical use—such as those used in food preparation—come from China. The $517 million worth of product faced no duty in 2017.

Low dependence, many alternatives

Cotton t-shirts


The US buys only a small portion of cotton t-shirts from China, but if fewer Americans buy Chinese t-shirts, that could mean that Chinese factories need less fabric made of American cotton. Nonetheless, there are many countries in the world making t-shirts from US-grown cotton.

High value, low dependence



With an average duty of 17%, the US imported $1.42 billion of athletic shoes from China in 2017. It’s the second largest US supplier, accounting for 35% of US imports after Indonesia’s 48% and ahead of Vietnam’s 12%.

High value, high dependence

Cordless drills


A March 2018 Goldman Sachs report identified power tools as a product ripe for US duties. Battery-powered drills from China faced an average tariff of 1.73% on $367.7 million worth of imports in 2017.

High dependence, few alternatives



Not only is China the US’s only supplier of consumer fireworks, it has a near-monopoly on a global scale. A new tariff on the $229.94 million worth of fireworks that the US imports from China could not be avoided by US consumers.

High dependence, few alternatives

Christmas lights


Christmas lights are another product for which the US relies heavily on China, and few other suppliers exist. The $402 million of imports are taxed at 8%.

High dependence, few alternatives

Collapsible umbrellas


While there is no tariff on telescoping umbrellas, China is one of the US’s and the world’s only suppliers. The US bought $114 million worth in 2017.

Low dependence, many alternatives

Dog and cat food


The $151 million in Chinese imports only make up a tiny portion of the multibillion-dollar US dog and cat food market. In 2017, the product accounted for 19% of US imports while entering the US tax free.

Low dependence, many alternatives

Leather handbags


China is the largest foreign supplier of leather handbags to the US by volume. While the average import price of an European-made handbag far exceeds that of a Chinese one—$289 for Italian, $358 for Spanish, $884 for French—other top US suppliers produce bags valued more similarly to China’s ($43).

High dependence, many alternatives

Playing cards


The US is the world’s largest exporter of playing cards, but it relies on China for most of the cards it imports. Japan, Germany and Belgium are all major exporters too, and could replace the US’s tariff-free $120 million supply from China.



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