China: Not No. 1, but rising with a bullet

Correction: Canada, not China, is the U.S.'s No. 1 trading partner.

Published May 11, 2006 4:02PM (EDT)

I was about to post this as a correction to my last post, but then decided it was a big enough mistake to warrant a post of its own. China is not, as I hastily declared yesterday, the U.S.'s No. 1 trade partner. That prize goes to Canada. China is in third place, with second going to Mexico.

Of course, with China, the numbers to watch aren't necessarily the current snapshot, but the rate of growth. The U.S Census Web site has great statistics on U.S. trade. In February 2000, China was in fourth place (Japan took the third spot). Total trade between the U.S. and China that month added up to $7.7 billion, or about a quarter of the $32 billion of total trade with Canada.

Six years later, in the most recent month for which the Census Web site has statistics, total trade between the U.S. and China was up to $22 billion, or more than half of Canada's $40 billion. (And just a whisker behind Mexico's $24 billion.)

So China may not currently be the the U.S's No. 1 trading partner, but if current trends continue, it will be bucking for that honor in the not too distant future. That doesn't mitigate the stupidity of my mistake -- in my hurry to respond as quickly as I could to yesterday's Treasury currency report, I neglected to fact-check. Bad blogger. Very bad blogger.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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