In 2011, U.S. businesses imported $399.1 billion worth of goods from the People’s Republic of China, according to the U.S. – China Business Council. This figure represents more than a 32% increase over 2010. The top three categories of items imported consist of electronic equipment – $98 billion, machines, engines, and pumps – $97.8 billion, and toys/games – $23.7 billion.

Here are the next six most imported items from China:

  • Clothing – $30.63 billion
  • Furniture, lighting, signs: $22.7 billion
  • Footwear: $17.5 billion
  • Plastics such as plastic sheds – $11.8 billion
  • Iron/ steel products – $9.4 billion
  • Vehicles – $8.7 billion

Any person or firm that plans to import goods from China must follow several requirements, which include the following items:

Harmonized Tariff Schedule

The importer needs to know the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) classification number of each good. The HTS determines if certain items have quota restrictions or qualify for the reduced rates of duty. This means the importer will have to negotiate the complex process of finding out each item’s HTS number.

Refer to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website for more information on Duty Rates.


Goods imported from China must have the following label: “Made in China.” The rules required that the marking be legible and permanent so that the end-users of the goods have complete awareness of the country of origin. The “end-user” ultimately buys or receives the goods in the same condition in which it was imported.

An end-user refers to a consumer, person receiving a gift, or a manufacturer who purchases the good for further processing.

If the good cannot be marked, such as a fruit, the sender must place the label on the outer container.

Intellectual Property

Importers who plan to distribute copyrighted or trademarked items should understand that specified individuals or firms have contracts that grant them exclusive rights to distribute certain intellectual products in the U.S. If you plan to import an intellectual property covered under this agreement and do not have the legal rights to do so, you risk the products being confiscated at the border.

Other Agency Requirements

Goods imported from China to Israel (more reading about China Import in Hebrew) and other western countries must meet the criteria, such as safety, health, energy efficiency, and other standards, established by other governmental agencies. The goods may require a special permit before  access is granted for importation into the U.S. The pamphlet “Importing Into the U.S.” can provide more information on the requirements and how to proceed.

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