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Ross Focuses on China as U.S. Trade Deficit Expands

Tuesday, June 06, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. monthly trade deficit in goods and services rose 5.1 percent in April to $47.6 billion as exports slipped 0.3 percent to $191.0 billion and imports rose 0.8 percent to $238.6 billion. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. trade deficit with China jumped by 13.8 percent in April from a year earlier and rose 5.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2017.

Ross said it is “too soon” for the trade deficit numbers to reflect either China’s recent agreement to open its market to U.S. beef, liquefied natural gas, and other products beginning July 16 or other steps the Trump administration has taken to “level the balance of trade.” He also pointed out that there were improvements in some areas in April, including record-high exports to South Korea and exports to Japan that were the largest since August 2014.

President Trump has made reducing the U.S. trade deficit a major focus and has raised particular concern with the deficit in goods trade, which according to Commerce Department statistics grew 3.5 percent in April to $68.4 billion. Imports of goods rose 0.9 percent to $195.3 billion, including increases of $1.8 billion in cell phones, $900 million in capital goods, and $500 million in artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles along with a $1.9 billion drop in crude oil. Exports of goods fell 0.4 percent to $126.9 billion, including losses of $300 million in passenger cars, $400 million in artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles, and $200 million in pharmaceutical preparations along with a $600 million increase in foods, feeds, and beverages.

The services surplus was largely unchanged at $20.8 billion. Imports rose 0.2 percent to $43.3 billion and exports were up 0.2 percent to $64.0 billion.

Country/region

Deficit

% Change

Surplus

% Change

China

$32.1 billion

+2.2

   

European Union

$13.2 billion

-32.0

   

Mexico

$6.4 billion

-1.5

   

Germany

$5.5 billion

+10.0

   

Japan

$5.0 billion

-23.1

   

Italy

$3.0 billion

+42.9

   

Canada

$2.6 billion

+36.9

India

$1.6 billion

-5.9

Taiwan

$1.3 billion

+18.3

   

France

$1.2 billion

+1100

   

South Korea

$1.0 billion

-40.0

   

Saudi Arabia

$0.2 billion

-75.0

   

South/Central America

$2.7 billion

+3.8

Hong Kong

   

$2.0 billion

-31.0

Singapore

$0.9 billion

+80.0

Brazil

$0.3 billion

+50.0

United Kingdom

   

$0.2 billion

-60.0

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