The disparity between automotive parts exports of $US48 billion and parts imports of $74 billion drove the US auto parts trade deficit to $26 billion in 2003, according to the 2004 Automotive Aftermarket Status Report by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA).

The report notes that Japan continues to be the most significant contributor to the trade deficit. However, China's imports are up 300%, making the country the fifth-largest source of US automotive parts imports.

Counterfeit parts are an additional concern with the automotive parts imports increase and the trade deficit, according to AASA. The fake parts and intellectual property rights violations cost the US automotive industry nearly $3 billion and cost the global industry $12 billion each year.

"Canada is the only major US trading partner with an automotive surplus," said AASA director of market research Frank Hampshire. He noted that Mexico and Canada are the largest US trading partners, with much of the exports of parts and components being imported later as finished goods.