Trade gap up to $ 80.9 billion in September


WASHINGTON – The US trade deficit hit a record high of $ 80.9 billion in September as US exports fell sharply while imports, even with supply chain problems at US ports, continue to drop. ‘to augment.

September’s deficit surpassed the previous record of $ 73.2 billion set in June, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The deficit is the gap between what the United States exports to the rest of the world and the imports it purchases from foreign countries.

In September, exports fell 3% to $ 207.6 billion while imports rose 0.6% to $ 288.5 billion.

Some of the weakness reflects a 15.5% drop in oil exports linked to the shutdown of the drilling platform and refinery during Hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico. Economists expect this decline to reverse in the coming months with the resumption of oil production.

The politically sensitive goods deficit with China climbed 15% in September to reach $ 36.5 billion. In the first nine months of this year, the U.S. deficit with China, the largest of any country, totaled $ 255.4 billion, an increase of 14.9 percent from the same period in 2020.

The overall trade deficit through September reached $ 638.6 billion, an increase of 33.1% from the same period last year. This big jump reflects the sharp increase in US import demand compared to last year, when many sectors of the economy were shut down due to the coronavirus.

In September, the goods deficit stood at $ 98.2 billion, up 10% from the deficit in August. The services surplus, which covers things like air travel and financial services, rose 10.5% to $ 17.2 billion, still well below levels seen before the pandemic. The surplus of services is expected to increase further as cases of covid-19 recede and travel restrictions are relaxed.

The growing trade deficit subtracted 1.1 percentage points from growth in the July-September quarter, a period in which the economy, as measured by gross domestic product, slowed to a rate of annual growth of only 2%, significantly lower than a growth rate of 6.7. % over the period April-June.

As cases of covid-19 recede and the supply chain unravel, the U.S. trade deficit is expected to start improving in the coming months, although the improvement may be modest, economists say.

“We hope that the trade balance will remain historically high until the end of the year, but moderation in domestic demand will slow import volumes, while a steady release of vaccines and slower spread of the virus are expected. supporting stronger export growth, ”Kathy Bostjancic, Chief Financial Economist of the United States at Oxford Economics. , noted.

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