In a new report, The U.S.-China Business Council reaffirmed China's importance to the U.S. economy. While China's GDP growth slows, dragging U.S. export growth down to 6.5%, the U.S. still shipped $109 billion in exports in 2012. Looking over the past decade, exports to China saw an average annual growth of nearly 17%, totaling $81 billion, or a 294% increase in exports to China from 2003 to 2012. 

Source: U.S.-China Business Council: U.S. Exports to China by State, 2003-2012.

China's export markets' importance continues to grow. The only countries that beat China for the United States' top export markets were Canada and Mexico -- U.S. neighbors and NAFTA trade partners. The council notes that exports to China supported a broad range of American sectors, from crop production to transportation equipment, illustrating that not only are U.S. companies and producers competitive in the global market, but they're also increasingly important to growing markets like China.

Source: U.S.-China Business Council: U.S. Exports to China by State, 2003-2012.

While growth in exports to China continue to grow rapidly, the report cautions that the U.S. should do better. Although China continues to be the third-largest destination for U.S. exports, the U.S. share of imports into China has fallen from 10% to 7% from 2000 to 2012. In 2012, the U.S. was the fourth-largest source of Chinese imports. The U.S. did surpass Taiwan in terms of imports to China, but it remains significantly behind other international competitors. The European Union, Japan, and South Korea all ranked higher.

Source: U.S.-China Business Council: U.S. Exports to China by State, 2003-2012.

The report concluded that the U.S. should aim to reclaim 10% of China's import market by 2015. By doing so, America would strengthen its competitiveness in China, boosting overall U.S. sales and its global competitiveness. As the council put it: "The US-China trade relationship strengthens America's economy and creates well-paying jobs for American workers across the country."