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Trade Deficit Falls to Four-Year Low as Exports Hit Another Record, Imports Tumble

Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Trade statistics released Jan. 7 by the Department of Commerce show that the monthly U.S. trade deficit dropped 12.7% in November to $34.3 billion, the second straight monthly decline and the lowest total in four years. Monthly exports were up nearly 1% to $194.9 billion, breaking the previous month’s record. Imports fell 1.5% to $229.1 billion, a decline press reports said was largely due to a drop in oil imports and masked growing imports of automobiles and capital goods. Compared to a year earlier, the November trade deficit was down $12.2 billion as exports climbed 5.2% and imports slipped 1.1%.

The monthly deficit in goods trade was down 8.3% in November to $53.9 billion. Exports of goods rose $1.5 billion to $137.1 billion but imports lost $3.4 billion to $191.0 billion. The services surplus edged up by $0.2 billion to $19.7 billion as exports and imports saw gains of $0.3 billion and $0.1 billion, respectively.

The Export-Import Bank reports that U.S. exports of goods and services over the last 12 months totaled $2.3 trillion, 43.7% above 2009, and grew at an annualized rate of 9.7% percent when compared to that year. Also during this time, major U.S. export markets (those with at least $6 billion in annual imports of U.S. goods) with the largest annualized increases in U.S. goods purchases compared to 2009 were Panama (27.3%), Russia (21.3%), Hong Kong (20.1%), the United Arab Emirates (20.0%), Peru (19.9%), Chile (18.7%), Colombia (18.6%), Argentina (16.7%), Ecuador (16.6%) and Indonesia (15.4%).

With respect to individual trading partners, the U.S. saw smaller deficits in November with China (down 6.9% to $26.9 billion), the European Union (down 29.4% to $10.1 billion), Germany (down 14.5% to $5.9 billion), Japan (down 9.4% to $5.8 billion), Saudi Arabia (down 6.5% to $2.9 billion), Ireland (down 43.8% to $1.8 billion), Venezuela (down 21.1% to $1.5 billion), Canada (down 46.4% to $1.5 billion), Korea (down 29.4% to $1.2 billion) and India (down 50% to $1.0 billion). The deficit with Mexico was unchanged at $4.1 billion. The November figures also show trade surpluses with Hong Kong (up 3.6% to $2.9 billion), Australia (down 14.3% to $1.2 billion), Singapore (unchanged at $1.2 billion) and Brazil (down 35.3% to $1.1 billion).

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