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Trade Deficit Jumps as Exports, Imports See Big Drops

Monday, May 11, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services jumped 11.6 percent in March as trade volumes continued to plummet amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, China did not top the list of trading partners with which the U.S. has a monthly trade deficit for the first time in many years.

According to trade statistics released May 5 by the Department of Commerce, the monthly trade deficit of $44.4 billion reflected a record 9.6 percent fall in exports to $187.7 billion and a 6.2 percent drop in imports, the biggest in more than ten years, to $232.2 billion. DOC states that the deficit was down 17.8 percent from March 2019 as exports fell 3.5 percent and imports tumbled 6.4 percent.

The deficit in goods trade rose 7.4 percent in March to $65.6 billion. Imports of goods were down 2.4 percent to $193.7 billion, including decreases of $2.5 billion in cell phones and other household goods, $1.5 billion in automotive parts and accessories, $900 million in gem diamonds, and $800 million each in computers and semiconductors. Exports of goods fell 6.7 percent to $128.1 billion, including decreases of $1 billion in crude oil, $900 million in automotive parts and accessories, and $400 million each in fuel oil; trucks, buses, and special-purpose vehicles; civilian aircraft parts; and other industrial machinery.

The services surplus was down 0.5 percent to $21.2 billion, with imports down 21.7 percent to $38.5 billion and exports down 15.3 percent to $59.6 billion.

Country/region

Deficit

% Change

Surplus

% Change

European Union

$16.9 billion

+34.1

 

 

China

$15.5 billion

-21.3

   

Mexico

$9.0 billion

-7.8

   

Germany

$6.0 billion

+25.0

   

Japan

$4.6 billion

-9.8

   

Italy

$2.8 billion

+21.7

   

Canada

$2.6 billion

+62.5

   

Taiwan

$2.0 billion

+33.3

   

South Korea

$1.9 billion

+72.7

   

India

$1.7 billion

+6.3

   

France

$0.7 billion

+40.0

   

Singapore

<$0.1 billion

Change from $0.7 billion surplus

South/Central America

   

$5.0 billion

-15.3

Hong Kong

$1.9 billion

+26.7

Brazil

   

$1.4 billion

-26.3

Saudi Arabia

$0.3 billion

0

United Kingdom

   

$0.1 billion

-92.3

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