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Trade Deficit Plummets as Exports, Imports Both Fall

Monday, May 06, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Trade statistics released May 2 by the Department of Commerce show that the monthly U.S. trade deficit fell 11% in March to $38.8 billion, the second-lowest level in three years. Monthly exports declined 0.91% to $184.3 billion while imports saw their largest decrease in four years, down 2.8% to $223.1 billion. Press reports indicate that these figures largely reflect a decline in petroleum exports and the lowest value of crude oil imports in 17 years. Compared to a year earlier the March trade deficit was down $12.9 billion as exports and imports decreased by 0.2% and 5.6%, respectively.

The monthly deficit in goods trade fell 7.6% in March to $56.1 billion. Exports of goods were down 1.4% to $130.3 billion while imports sank 3.3% to $186.5 billion. The services surplus was unchanged at $17.3 billion as exports gained $0.1 billion to $53.9 billion and imports dropped $0.1 billion to $36.6 billion.

The bilateral trade deficit with China continued to tumble, falling 23.5% to $17.9 billion, the lowest level in three years. The U.S. also saw smaller deficits with Canada (down 8% to $2.3 billion) and Ireland (down 4.5% to $2.1 billion). Deficits increased with the European Union (up 12.5% to $9.9 billion), Japan (up 11.9% to $6.6 billion), Mexico (up 23.3% to $5.3 billion), Germany (up 13.3% to $5.1 billion), Saudi Arabia (up 16.7% to $2.1 billion), India (up 50% to $1.8 billion) and Venezuela (up 18.2% to $1.3 billion).

The U.S. continued to run surpluses with several trade partners, including Hong Kong (down 3.0% to $3.2 billion), Brazil (unchanged at $1.7 billion), Australia (up 15.4% to $1.5 billion) and Singapore (up 55.6% to $1.4 billion).

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