Articles | 3 min read
Primary Agricultural Export Markets for the US

Primary Agricultural Export Markets for the US

Olmo Bastida
December 17, 2021
Olmo Bastida
December 17, 2021

In 2019, the United States led the world in exports of agricultural crops and livestock, with 11.4% of total global export volume. That volume was valued at $140,196 million USD, or 9.7% of the worldwide total, according to FAOSTAT data.

1) China

In 2020, China was the top destination for US agricultural exports, reaching a value of $26,435 million USD, a significant increase of 90.7% compared to 2019, when the total value was $13,860 million USD.

In 2016, 2017, and 2018, the annual export values were $21,395, $19,476, and $9,145 million USD, respectively. After several years of decreases, there was a significant upturn in 2019 and 2020.

The United States was the second largest agri-food supplier to China in 2020, supplying 15% of its imports. Brazil held the first position with 22%, and the European Union came in third with 14%.

As part of the Phase One Agreement, China had committed to importing $40,000 million annually in 2020 and 2021. However, it came up 34% short in 2020 due to the global impact of the pandemic.

In 2020, the top agricultural products exported to China were soy ($14,160 MM), cotton ($1,826 MM), corn ($1,205 MM), coarse grains ($1,153 MM) and tree nuts ($746 MM).

2) Canada


In 2020 the value of US agricultural exports to Canada was $20,992 million, just 0.5% more than the $20,886 million exported in 2019. During the last 5 years there have not been significant variations to these values.

The top agricultural products exported were fresh vegetables ($1,891 MM), fresh fruit ($1,580 MM), and tree nuts ($737 MM).

The United States is the primary agricultural supplier for Canada, providing 57% of its imports, largely due to two competitive advantages: proximity, as the only country bordering Canada, and the adverse climate that limits agricultural production in Canada during most of the year.

3) Mexico

In 2020, agricultural exports to Mexico were valued at $18,904 million USD, 6.0% more compared to the $17,827 million USD exported in 2011 and 1.4% less than the $19,179 million USD exported in 2019. During the past decade there have been several marked increases and decreases.

The United States supplies 70% of Mexico’s agri-food imports. The primary products imported by Mexico are corn ($2,693 MM), soy ($1,895 MM), and wheat ($778 MM).


The United States exports agri-food products to many countries around the world. Historically, Canada and Mexico have been its main markets, due to proximity and the establishment of trade agreements, such as NAFTA/T-MEC.

However, when trade relations with China are good, this country becomes the main destination for the United States’ agricultural exports. For some years there was a decrease in volumes, but in 2019 and 2020 a significant rebound was achieved.

FAO FAOSTAT. Cultivos y productos de ganadería
USDA FAS. China 2020 Export Highlights
USDA FAS. Canada 2020 Export Highlights
USDA-FAS. Mexico 2020 Export Highlights

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