Silicon Valley may be the tech capital of the world but physical goods still account for around two-thirds of US exports, new figures show.

Machinery and electrical equipment brought in $363 billion - almost a quarter of the $1.5 trillion worth of American goods exported in 2017, according to the World Bank’s World Integrated Trade Statistics (WITS) database. Total US exports in 2017 were $2.35 trillion.

The next biggest category was transportation equipment, which includes planes, boats and trains, worth $267 billion. Services earned the US almost $800 billion in 2017, led by travel and management consulting.

From machinery and electric (red, 23.5%) and wood (light grey, 2.6%) to food products (orange, 2.9%), these are the US's most exported products.
Image: WITS World Bank

Guns and guitars

The “Miscellaneous” category – which covers a range of goods from arms and ammunition to toys and includes furniture, musical instruments and antiques – comprised the third largest group, worth $177 billion.

Petrochemicals earned a total of almost $300 billion, while minerals contributed less than $10 billion.

The WITS database shows that Canada was the biggest export market for the US, taking just under a fifth of all goods exported, followed by Mexico, China, Japan, the UK and Germany.

The US's biggest export partners, including Canada (light grey, 18.3%) to Chile (navy blue, 0.9%)
Image: WITS World Bank

A perfect storm

The World Economic Forum and United Nations Development Programme report Reshaping Global Value says world trade is facing unprecedented change as manufacturing responds to a “perfect storm” of factors disrupting the global production system.

It identifies three megatrends: emerging technologies; the need for much greater environmental sustainability in response to accelerating climate change; and the reconfiguration of globalization.