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Economy in Brief

Advance U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods Deepens to Record in March
by Tom Moeller  April 28, 2021

• Foreign trade deficit increases as economy improves.

• Exports and imports reversed earlier declines.

The advance estimate of the U.S. trade deficit in goods widened to a record $90.59 billion during March from $87.07 billion in February. During Q1'21, the trade deficit averaged $87.34 billion versus $83.44 billion averaged in Q4'20. An $87.4 billion March deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Exports increased 8.7% (11.5% y/y) last month after a 3.6% February decline. Imports improved 6.8% (20.6% y/y) after falling 1.0% in February.

By category, nonauto consumer goods exports jumped 15.3% (18.1% y/y) following two months of sharp decline. Exports of capital goods rose 7.3% (-1.2% y/y) after falling 5.9% in February. Autos & parts exports increased 7.2% (15.4% y/y) after declining for two straight months. Foods, feeds & beverages exports edged 0.9% higher (21.5% y/y), also following two months of significant decline, while industrial supplies & materials exports rose 10.1% (19.2% y/y) after a 0.8% improvement.

Imports of autos & parts rose 7.3% (8.3% y/y) following two months of significant decline. Food & beverage imports rebounded 7.0% (9.4% y/y) last month after falling 4.9% in February. Nonauto consumer goods imports rebounded 7.0% (37.5% y/y) following a 4.2% drop. Auto & parts imports rose 7.3% (8.3% y/y) after falling sharply for two straight months. Industrial supplies imports strengthened 7.6% (22.1% y/y) with higher oil prices. Capital goods imports rose 5.7% (16.6 y/y) after a 0.3% improvement.

The advance international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, which is in AS1REPNA.

Advance U.S. Foreign Trade in Goods (Customs Value $) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
U.S. Trade Deficit ($ bil.) -90.59 -87.07 -84.35 -65.59 (3/20) -904.95 -854.37 -872.04
Exports (% Chg) 8.7 -3.6 1.7 11.5 -12.9 -1.4 7.7
Imports (% Chg) 6.8 -1.0 1.6 20.6 -6.4 -1.6 8.5

Note: Current month is based on Advance Trade data; Previous months reflect revised data from International Trade release.

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