Background

The monthly U.S. trade deficit in goods and services plummeted 21 percent in November, the biggest monthly drop in more than a decade and the resumption of a downward trend that lasted most of 2022.

“Americans are spending more of their money on services instead of goods, partly explaining the decline” in imports, a MarketWatch article explained. “Other factors include cheaper oil prices, COVID-related disruptions in China that affected the availability of consumer electronics such as cell phones, and declining demand for COVID vaccines.” The decline in exports is due at least in part to “slower economic growth in other countries and a strong dollar that has made American goods and services more expensive.”

According to statistics from the Department of Commerce, imports tumbled 6.4 percent from October to November, to $313.4 billion. Imports of goods were down 7.5 percent to $254.9 billion, with decreases of $3.3 billion in automobiles and auto parts, $2.9 billion in drugs, and $2.7 billion in cell phones and other household goods. Imports of services fell 1.4 percent to $58.5 billion. For the year-to-date, total imports were up 18.1 percent from November 2021.

Exports dropped 2.1 percent in November to $251.9 billion. Exports of goods were down 3.0 percent, with decreases of $1.6 billion in natural gas, $800 million in non-monetary gold, and $500 million in civilian aircraft. Services exports edged up 0.2 percent to $81.0 billion. For the year-to-date, total exports were up 18.9 percent from a year earlier.

With exports and imports both down, the monthly U.S. trade deficit fell from $77.8 billion in October to $61.5 billion in November. The deficit in goods trade declined 15.4 percent to $84.1 billion and the services trade surplus increased 4.7 percent to $22.5 billion. For the year-to-date, however, the overall trade deficit was up 15.7 percent from November 2021.

Country/region

Deficit

% Change

Surplus

% Change

China

$20.4 billion

-21.8

 

 

European Union

$19.5 billion

-15.6

 

 

Mexico

$10.9 billion

-6.0

 

 

Vietnam

$8.5 billion

-9.6

 

 

Germany

$7.2 billion

-11.1

 

 

Ireland

$5.6 billion

-16.4

 

 

Japan

$5.6 billion

-12.5

 

 

Taiwan

$4.1 billion

+2.5

 

 

South Korea

$3.7 billion

+23.3

 

 

Canada

$3.5 billion

-27.1

 

 

Italy

$3.4 billion

-15.0

 

 

Malaysia

$3.1 billion

0

 

 

India

$2.3 billion

-17.9

 

 

Switzerland

$1.3 billion

+160.0

 

 

France

$1.0 billion

-62.5

 

 

Saudi Arabia

$0.9 billion

-10.0

 

 

Israel

$0.7 billion

0

 

 

South/Central America

 

 

$5.3 billion

+6.0

Netherlands

 

 

$2.4 billion

-41.5

Hong Kong

 

 

$1.6 billion

+6.7

United Kingdom

 

 

$1.2 billion

+9.1

Australia

 

 

$1.0 billion

0

Singapore

 

 

$1.0 billion

+42.9

Brazil

 

 

$0.5 billion

0

Belgium

 

 

$0.1 billion

Change from $0.3 billion deficit

 

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