US Trade Gap Lower than Expected


The US trade deficit narrowed to USD 49 billion in March of 2018 from a slightly upwardly revised USD 57.7 billion in the previous month which was the highest since October 2008. Figures came better than market expectations of a USD 50 billion gap as exports reached a record high boosted by sales of commercial aircraft and soybeans. Also, imports fell as payments for the rights to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympic Games faded.

The March decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected a decrease in the goods deficit of USD 7.5 billion to USD 69.5 billion and an increase in the services surplus of USD 1.3 billion to USD 20.5 billion. 

Total exports jumped 2 percent month-over-month to a record high value of USD 208.53 billion. Exports of goods increased USD 3.7 billion to USD 140.9 billion, boosted by shipments of civilian aircraft (USD 1.9 billion); soybeans (USD 0.5 billion); corn (USD 0.3 billion); crude oil (USD 0.4 billion); and other petroleum products (USD 0.3 billion). Exports of services rose USD 0.4 billion to USD 67.6 billion boosted by sales of maintenance and repair services (USD 0.1 billion); travel (USD 0.1 billion); and transport (USD 0.1 billion).

Total imports declined 1.8 percent month-over-month to USD 257.48 billion. Imports of goods decreased USD 3.7 billion to USD 210.4 billion, mainly due to computer accessories (USD -0.5 billion); telecommunications equipment (USD -0.5 billion); semiconductors (USD -0.5 billion); toys, games, and sporting goods (USD -0.7 billion); televisions and video equipment (USD -0.7 billion); and crude oil (USD -0.5 billion). Imports of services decreased USD 0.9 billion to USD 47.1 billion in March. Purchases went down mainly for charges for the use of intellectual property (USD -0.9 billion). Charges for February included payments for the rights to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympic Games; and transport (USD -0.1 billion).

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, exports went up to OPEC (26.6 percent); China (26.3 percent); Japan (22.3 percent); the EU (19.5 percent); Canada (15.3 percent); Brazil (12.3 percent); and Mexico (8.3 percent). Imports rose from Brazil (19.8 percent); Japan (19.1 percent); Mexico (14 percent); the EU (13.4 percent); Canada (12 percent); and the OPEC (9.1 percent) but fell 2.1 percent from China. 

The trade deficit worsened with the EU (USD -12.15 billion from USD -12.05 billion); Mexico (USD -8 billion from USD -6 billion) and Japan (USD -6.38 billion from USD -5.5 billion) but narrowed with China (USD -25.87 billion from USD -29.26 billion) and the OPEC (USD -0.76 billion from USD -1.37 billion). The trade balance with Canada switched to a USD 0.31 billion surplus from a USD 0.41 billion gap. 

Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased USd 25.5 billion, or 18.5 percent, from the same period in 2017. Exports rose USD 39.2 billion or 6.8 percent. Imports went up USD 64.7 billion or 9.1 percent.

US Trade Gap Lower than Expected


BEA | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com
5/3/2018 1:23:09 PM