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West Coast Port Backlog Blamed for Huge Increase in Monthly Trade Deficit

Thursday, May 07, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The monthly U.S. trade deficit in goods and services jumped 45.2 percent in March to $51.4 billion, according to trade statistics released May 5 by the Department of Commerce. The DOC attributed the jump to “a sharp increase in imports following resolution of the labor dispute at West Coast ports, which depressed imports sharply in February and created a backlog of shipments that has now been worked off.”


Total Imports and Exports. Imports totaled $239.2 billion, up 7.9 percent, and exports totaled $187.8 billion, up 0.9 percent. The year-to-date deficit was up 5.2 percent from a year earlier as exports fell 2.0 percent and imports dropped 0.8 percent.

Goods. The goods deficit soared 27.7 percent to $70.5 billion. Imports of goods jumped 9.1 percent to $197.6 billion, with major increases in automotive vehicles, parts and engines ($2.7 billion), cell phones and other household goods ($1.7 billion), textile, apparel and household goods ($1.3 billion) and furniture ($1.0 billion). Exports of goods totaled $127.1 billion, up 1.2 percent, including increases of $500 million in civilian aircraft, $200 million in civilian aircraft engines and $200 million in electric apparatus.

Services. The services surplus slipped 2.5 percent to $19.2 billion. Imports rose 2.0 percent to $41.6 billion and exports edged up 0.3 percent to $60.8 billion.

Country Deficits. Goods deficits were higher with China (up 38.5 percent to $37.8 billion), Japan (up 46.5 percent to $6.3 billion), Mexico (up 6.7 percent to $4.8 billion) and South Korea (up 18.2 percent to $2.6 billion) but down with Germany (down 11.1 percent to $5.6 billion). Deficits were unchanged with the European Union ($11.0 billion) and Canada ($1.4 billion). The U.S. also ran deficits with Italy ($2.1 billion), India ($2.0 billion), France ($1.5 billion), the United Kingdom ($0.2 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($0.1 billion).

Country Surpluses. The U.S. ran goods trade surpluses with South and Central America (down 19.4 percent to $2.9 billion) and Brazil (down 50 percent to $0.4 billion).

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