A Year of Trade in New York: Exports and Imports in 2015

Trade has been a hot-button issue this election cycle, with politicians falling on both extremes of the spectrum. With New York’s primary rapidly approaching, we looked at import and export data from the Census Bureau for the state of New York. We evaluated trade in the Empire State across more than 200 countries and over 1100 different types of products and goods.


  • New York imports the most from China and exports the most to Canada. Other significant trade relationships include India, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany and Israel
  • A majority of New York's top imports and exports are diamonds, precious metals, artwork and precious metals
  • New York has net imports of loose diamonds of $8.9 billion dollars in 2015. Two of the largest importers of diamonds to New York are Israel and India

Trade with Other Countries

In 2015, New York imported over $133 billion in goods from 216 countries and exported over $80 billion in goods to 224 countries. New York’s gross domestic product (GDP) was roughly $1.39 trillion in 2014, up 5% from the previous year. If we assume similar growth in GDP for 2015, then exports as a percentage of GDP are between 5% and 6% in 2015. This is lower than the U.S. total, which averages around 13% of GDP from 2011 to 2015. And it’s even lower than countries with comparable GDPs. Spain has a GDP roughly the same as New York’s, and exports from Spain have averaged over 30% of the country’s GDP in the past four years. South Korea, Australia, Canada and Russia all have comparable GDPs to New York, and their exports as a percentage of GDP range from 20% to 50%.

Top 10 Countries (by dollar amount) New York Exported to in 2015

Breaking down New York’s exports, we can see that New York exports the most to Canada. This is unsurprising, given Canada’s close proximity to the state. Canada is also the second ranked country in the top countries that New York imports from. In fact, eight of the countries appearing in the top countries for exports also appear in the top countries for imports. These are Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium, China, India and Germany.

For a majority of these eight countries, New York imports more than it exports leading to a trade deficit. With China, for instance, New York had a net import amount of over $19 billion in 2015. There are only two countries that New York has a trade surplus with, and these are Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In 2015, New York had a net export amount of $2.9 billion to Switzerland and $666 million to the U.K.

Top 10 Countries (by dollar amount) New York imported from in 2015

New York’s total imports represented 6% of all U.S. imports and represented 8.5% of New York’s estimated GDP for 2015. New York’s imports represented the third highest share of total U.S. imports. Only California and Texas ranked above New York. On the export side, New York exports represented 5.3% of the total U.S. exports, making New York the fourth largest exporter in 2015 behind Texas, California and Washington. The sheer volume and amount of trade conducted in New York, California and Texas are indicative of the importance of ports and transportation hubs in global commerce.

New York’s Trade with Canada

Since Canada has a significant trade relationship with New York, we decided to evaluate what types of items are being imported and exported. A majority of the top imports from Canada are basic materials such as oil (crude and refined), petroleum, silver, gold and aluminum.

Top Imports (by dollar amount) from Canada to New York in 2015

When we compare the top exports from New York to Canada, we see that quite a few are manufactured from raw products similar to the ones imported from Canada. For instance, one of the top exports to Canada is fine jewelry and scrap precious metal, which would be a byproduct of jewelry making or other processes. Jewelry manufacturing is, in fact, quite a large industry within New York. Another example of this is aluminum: New York imports a lot of raw aluminum from Canada and exports manufactured aluminum to Canada.

Despite New York’s trade deficit with Canada, we can still see that quite a few New York industries benefit from this trade relationship by importing needed materials and raw goods for manufacturing. And they also benefit by exporting finished goods and products. This highlights the concept of “specialization” in trade where a country can focus on producing a smaller number of goods extremely well instead of all goods needed. In this case, we already know that the jewelry and diamond industry are important in New York, especially in New York City.

Top Exports (by dollar amount) to Canada from New York in 2015

Of the top exports to Canada, one category is labeled “low value exports”. These are goods that are valued under $2,500 and typically do not require the exporter to declare what types of goods they are. These could be any types of goods, such as food items, machinery or raw materials.

Top Imported and Exported Commodities

Countries represent one view of New York’s imports and exports. The other is the actual commodities and goods that the state exports and imports. In the graphs below, we can see that jewelry and precious metals and stones are important exports and imports for New York overall. For instance, we see that loose diamonds, jewelry, raw gold and other loose precious stones are some of the major imports into New York. Similarly, these goods are also among the top exports from New York.

Top 10 Imports to New York in 2015 (by dollar amount)

Interestingly, most of New York’s top imports and exports are lifestyle and luxury goods, such as clothing, luggage, paintings, sculptures and jewelry. Only a few imports and exports fall outside of this category: telephones and cellphones, vaccines and blood, consumer automobiles and petroleum gas. Manufacturing remains an important industry in the state. In 2015, the New York Labor Department reported over 454,000 jobs in manufacturing, including vehicle, pharmaceutical and consumer electronic manufacturing. This represents approximately 5% of total non-farm employment in the state.

Top Exports (by dollar amount) from New York in 2015

Diamond Trade in New York

Last year, New York had a net import of loose and rough diamonds of approximately $8.9 billion dollars. Diamonds are a large market in New York, especially in New York City, as evidenced by the city’s Diamond District that routinely does over $24 billion in sales per year. New York imported and exported diamonds from over 96 countries, including India, Israel, Belgium, Hong Kong and Switzerland, in 2015. New York had the largest gross imports and exports from Israel.

Top Countries Exported ToTop Countries Imported From





Hong Kong



$1.22BHong Kong$1.13B


$1.17BSouth Africa$617.65M

United Arab Emirates


United Kingdom

$383.64MUnited Kingdom$239.84M



South Africa




Looking at net imports and net exports (as depicted in the graph below), we can see that New York has a net import of $5.69 billion in loose diamonds from India. This pales in comparison to the highest net export of loose diamonds to Hong Kong at just under $1 billion. Based on this, it's likely that diamonds are being imported to New York to sell within the state or nationally or to be used in jewelry or other products.

Highest and Lowest Net Exports (by dollar amount) of Diamonds from New York in 2015


Justin is a Sr. Research Analyst at ValuePenguin, focusing on small business lending. He was a corporate strategy associate at IBM.

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