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U.S. Trade in Private Services

U.S. exports of private services exceed a half trillion dollars and account for nearly one-third of all U.S. exports of goods and services.

  • Growth in exports of services has outpaced the rise in imports. The U.S. trade surplus in services rose to a total of $168.0 billion in 2010. The surplus has grown quickly since 2003, rising to $101.2 billion.
  • Financial and business services contribute the most to the U.S. surplus, though fees for software and industrial process licenses, other royalties, and education services also contribute significantly.
  • The surplus in travel and passenger fares increased $29.8 billion from 2003 to 2010.
  • The largest U.S. surpluses in services by country are with Canada, Japan, Ireland, Brazil, the United Kingdom, China, and Mexico.
  • The U.S. services surplus with China has accelerated rapidly since 2007, from $2.4 billion to $10.4 billion in 2010, because of sharp gains in exports and relatively flat imports. Gains have been realized across all categories of services.
  • The largest U.S. services deficit is with Bermuda, which is a major source of U.S. reinsurance imports. The second largest is with India, primarily because of U.S. purchases of computer services.
  • The largest U.S. deficit by service type is in insurance. U.S. insurers purchased $41.2 billion more in reinsurance than they sold in 2009.

U.S. Trade in Private Services May 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration Executive Summary ESA Issue Brief #01-11

*Services are non-tangible items of value, such as travel, shipping, tuition, phone service, computer processing, and software licenses. Private services exclude government.

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