US trade deficit hits eight-month low as Chinese imports fall

18 Avril, 2019, 04:19 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
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The trade deficit tumbled 3.4 percent to $49.4 billion in February, the lowest level since June 2018. Exports grew by 1.1% after rising 1.0% last month. President Trump had threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% this year.

On Wednesday, April 17, the Commerce Department reports on the USA trade gap for February.

On the other side of the ledger, the country also exported less of just about everything that wasn't energy.

The politically sensitive goods trade deficit with China - a focus of the Trump administration's protectionist trade policy - decreased 28.2 per cent to $24.8 billion in February as US exports to the world's No. 2 economy jumped 18.2 per cent. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade shortfall widening to $53.5 billion in February.

Soybean exports jumped 15.6% in February.

"Even if trade negotiations are resolved in such a way as to reduce the bilateral trade deficit with China, one of the Trump administration's stated goals, this would likely divert trade flows to other countries and have little impact on the top-line USA trade deficit", said Emily Mandel, an economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Imports from China fell 20.2% to $33.2 billion. Imports of industrial supplies and materials fell by $1.2 billion.

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Exports of services, always a strength in these trade reports, rose 0.3 percent to $70.1 billion.

Goods exports increased 1.5 per cent to $139.5 billion in February.

Shipments of civilian aircraft soared by $2.2 billion in February.

Exports of motor vehicles and parts increased by $0.6 billion in February. Exports to China rose 18.2% to $8.4 billion. An increase in domestic production has seen the United States become less dependent on foreign oil. "With economic growth in the rest of the world set to remain subdued, and the past appreciation of the dollar still feeding through, we expect export growth to weaken".

"Month-to-month variation in the trade deficit tells us little about the overall direction of the United States balance", she said.

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