Why The Gap Won't Stop Growing

U.S. consumers can't get enough of Chinese goods. Take a look

Can anything stop the Chinese export machine? In August the mainland's trade surplus hit $18.8 billion -- the fourth straight month with a record-setting gap. For the year to date, the surplus stands at $94.7 billion, 57% ahead of a year ago. Although China's imports jumped to a record $72 billion, exports surged nearly a third to -- yes, another record -- $90.8 billion. And much of that gap can be attributed to the vast quantities of goods shipped to eager American consumers. For the year, China's exports to the U.S. look set to approach $300 billion, up from $243 billion in 2005.

Just what are Americans buying? Numbers won't be available until 2007, but it's a safe bet that gizmos such as TVs and iPods were popular. U.S. Commerce Dept. data show that electronic gear was the largest category of imports from China last year. That's a big change from a decade ago, when low-tech manufactured goods dominated. Below, the true scope of America's imports from China.

By Nichola Saminather

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