HTML _ IB96038 - U.S. International Trade: Data and Forecasts
18-May-2001; Dick Nanto and Vivian Jones; 14 p.

Update: For March 2001 the U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $31.2 billion, up from $26.9 billion in February (BoP basis). Exports of goods and services decreased to $89.5 billion in March, down from $90.4 billion in February. March imports increased to $120.6 billion, up from $117.2 billion in February. Exports of goods alone decreased to $64.1 billion, down from $65.2 billion in February, while imports of goods increased to $101.7 billion, up from $98.6 billion in February.

The year-to-date deficit on goods trade with Mexico was $6.3 billion for January-March 2001, up from $5.8 billion for the same period in 2000 (Census basis). The goods deficit with Japan was $18.2 billion for January-March 2001, down from $19.1 billion a year earlier. The corresponding deficit in goods with China rose to $18.0 billion, up from $16.7 billion in January-March 2001. Over the same period, the deficit with the European Union rose to $13.3 billion, up from $13.1 billion over the January-March period in 2000. The deficit with the Asian Newly Industrialized Countries (Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan) was $4.8 billion for the January-March 2001 period, down from $5.8 billion over the same period in 2000.

Abstract: In 2000 the United States incurred a trade deficit in goods of $434.3 billion on a Census basis and $449.5 billion on a balance- of-payments basis (BoP). A surplus in services trade of $79.8 billion gave a deficit of $369.7 billion on goods and services (BoP) for the year. For March 2001, the trade deficit in goods and services increased to $31.2 billion from $26.9 billion in February.

Overall U.S. trade deficits reflect a shortage of savings in the domestic economy and a reliance on capital imports to finance that shortfall. They are a concern for Congress for several reasons. Financial, budgetary and other policies may affect the size of the trade deficit, while trade and capital flows affect the exchange value of the U.S. dollar. A large overall trade deficit may also indicate that certain U.S. industries are having difficulty competing with imports at home and in markets abroad. This may generate trade friction and pressures for the government to do more to open foreign markets, shield U.S. producers from foreign competition, or assist U.S. industries to become more competitive.

Since 1976, the United States has incurred continual merchandise trade deficits. They increased dramatically from $36.5 billion in 1982 to a peak in 1987 at $159.6 billion. The deficit dropped to $74.1 billion in 1991 but rose to $434.3 billion in 2000 (Census).

Much of the improvement in the U.S. trade deficit between 1987 and 1991 resulted from a depreciation of the dollar and the recession in 1990-1991. The multilateral trade-weighted real value of the U.S. dollar reached a high in 1985, then dropped sharply from 1986 through 1988.

The worsening of the deficit in 1993-95 can be attributed primarily to the faster recovery from recession in the United States than in Europe or Japan. In 1997-99, the Asian financial crisis caused a sizable fall in U.S. exports to Asia and a marked increase in U.S. imports from Asia.

In 2000, total U.S. goods trade reached $2.0 trillion with exports of $782.4 billion and imports of $1.2 trillion (Census basis). In 2000, U.S. exports increased by 12.4%, while imports increased by 18.7%.

The broadest measure of U.S. international economic transactions is the balance on current account. In addition to merchandise trade, it includes trade in services and unilateral transfers. The current account deficit reached a record $435.4 billion in 2000 from $331.5 billion in 1999. After reaching a peak of $160.7 billion in 1987, the current account deficit had fallen steadily through 1991 when it reached a surplus of $6.6 billion. Economic projections indicate that the current account deficit may rise further to about $442 billion in 2001.

In trade in advanced technology products, the U.S. surplus decreased from $19.1 billion in 1999 to $5.0 billion in 2000.

In trade in passenger automobiles, the United States has been running a deficit, particularly with Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Germany. [read report]

Topics: Economics & Trade, International, International Finance

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