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Trade Deficit Sees Monthly and Annual Gains Despite Drop in Oil Imports

Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Trade statistics released Feb. 5 by the Department of Commerce show that the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services rose 2.7 percent in December to $43.4 billion, following a 4.9 percent drop in November, as exports slipped 0.3 percent to $181.5 billion and imports edged up 0.3 percent to $224.9 billion. For all of 2015, the deficit grew 4.6 percent to a new high of $531.5 billion (a smaller increase than the 6.0 percent registered in 2014) as exports fell 4.8 percent to $2.23 trillion and imports dropped 3.1 percent to $2.76 trillion.

A DOC press release points out that in 2015 U.S. goods exports increased to 58 international markets and set records with 20, including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Vietnam and Austria. In addition, services exports hit a sixth straight record high and the telecommunications, computer and information services; financial services; travel; and other business services sectors each saw exports rise more than $1 billion to their own all-time highs.

Highlights of the statistics for December include the following.

- The goods deficit rose 2.1 percent to $62.5 billion as exports slipped 0.7 percent to $121.2 billion (including drops of $600 million for automotive vehicles, parts and engines and $400 million for foods, feeds and soybeans) and imports gained 0.3 percent to $183.7 billion (including increases of $1 billion for automotive vehicles, parts and engines, $300 million for non-monetary gold and $200 million for crude oil).

- The services surplus saw a 0.5 percent gain to $19.2 billion as exports rose 0.5 percent to $60.3 billion and imports rose 0.2 percent to $41.2 billion.

- Goods deficits were higher with the European Union (up 3.9 percent to $13.3 billion), Germany (up 16.4 percent to $6.4 billion), Japan (up 12.5 percent to $6.3 billion), South Korea (up 8.7 percent to $2.5 billion) and Canada (up 55.6 percent to $0.9 billion).

- Goods deficits were lower with China (down 1.7 percent to $30.2 billion), Mexico (down 11.1 percent to $4.8 billion), Italy (down 9.1 percent to $2.2 billion), India (down 4.8 percent to $2.0 billion) and France (down 33.3 percent to $1.4 billion).

- The $0.4 surplus with Saudi Arabia shifted to a $0.5 billion deficit.

- Goods surpluses were up with South and Central America (up 3.7 percent to $2.8 billion), the United Kingdom (up 100 percent to $0.6 billion) and Brazil (up 100 percent to $0.2 billion).

Highlights of the statistics for all of 2015 include the following.

- The trade deficit grew significantly despite a drop in oil prices that reduced imports as weaker overseas growth and lower global commodity prices hindered U.S. exports and imports of other goods grew.

- The goods deficit increased 2.4 percent to $758.9 billion as exports tumbled 7.3 percent to $1.51 trillion (including declines of $22.2 billion in fuel oil, $16.1 billion in other petroleum products and $5.3 billion in soybeans) and imports fell 4.3 percent to $2.27 trillion (including decreases of $120.5 billion in crude oil and $17.3 billion in fuel oil but an increase of $37.5 billion in consumer goods, including $16.4 billion in pharmaceutical preparations).

- The services surplus slipped 2.4 percent to $227.4 billion as exports rose 0.8 percent to $716.4 billion and imports gained 2.3 percent to $489.0 billion.

- The U.S. registered record trade deficits with China ($365.7 billion), the EU ($153.3 billion), Germany ($74.2 billion) and South Korea ($28.3 billion).

- Deficits also increased with Japan (up 2.4 percent to $67.0 billion), Mexico (up 8.6 percent to $58.4 billion) and Italy (up 10.8 percent to $27.8 billion).

- Deficits were lower with Canada (down 56.2 percent to $14.9 billion) and India (down 1.7 percent to $23.6 billion).

- The U.S. ran trade surpluses with Hong Kong (down 11.3 percent to $30.5 billion), South and Central America (up 8.7 percent to $37.4 billion), Australia (down 11.3 percent to $14.2 billion), Singapore (down 26.2 percent to $10.4 billion) and Brazil (down 63.9 percent to $4.3 billion).

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