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Louis Johnston


American trade with Asia rose from 10% of total imports in 1870 to 15% in 1913. U.S. exports to China relative to the population quadrupled over this period as well. Scholars have studied U.S.-Japan trade for this period but have done little work on U.S.-China interactions. I therefore developed bilateral trade data for the United States and China from 1865 to 1914 and analyzed these data to reveal trade patterns and terms of trade between these two countries. The terms of trade improved for the U.S. between 1895 and 1913. Cotton manufactures and mineral oil were the United States’ key exports to China; exports of these goods increased by factors of 651 and twenty-three, respectively, between 1865 and 1914. Tea imports to the U.S. peaked and then declined drastically during this time period while imports of silk grew in importance, increasing by a factor of eighty-four.

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