Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Mar 29 2024

U.S. Goods Trade Deficit Widens in February; Largest Since April ’23

  • $91.84 billion deficit in Feb., larger than expected.
  • Exports gain 2.8%, up for the third straight month.
  • Imports increase 2.3%, up for the fifth month in six.

The advance estimate of the U.S. international trade deficit in goods widened to $91.84 billion in February from $90.51 billion in January, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was the third consecutive month that the goods deficit had widened. The February deficit was the biggest since April 2023 and larger than a $90.64 billion shortfall in February 2023. A deficit of $89.6 billion for February had been expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The deficit had reached a peak of $121.18 billion in March 2022. In Q4'23, the goods trade deficit widened to $264.19 billion after narrowing to $260.83 billion in Q3'23. The goods trade deficit added 0.31%-point to real GDP growth in Q4'23 after having subtracted 0.09%-point in Q3'23.

Total exports grew 2.8% m/m (3.6% y/y) in February, the third successive monthly increase, after a 0.1% uptick in January. However, exports had fallen 3.1% since a July 2022 high. The increase in exports in February reflected exports m/m rises of 11.9% (1.5% y/y) in foods, feeds & beverages, 6.2% (5.9% y/y) in other goods, 3.8% (3.1% y/y) in industrial supplies & materials, 2.8% (7.9% y/y) in capital goods excluding autos, and 0.8% (-2.6% y/y) in nonfood consumer goods excluding autos. To the downside, exports of automotive vehicles & parts were the only end-use category with a monthly decline in February, falling 8.4% (+1.7% y/y) following a 10.2% January rebound.

Total imports rose 2.3% m/m (2.8% y/y) in February, the third straight monthly rise and the fifth in six months, on top of a 1.2% increase in January. Nevertheless, imports had fallen 7.8% since a March 2022 high. The rise in imports in February reflected imports m/m increases of 7.6% (7.6% y/y) in foods, feeds & beverages, 3.0% (16.2% y/y) in automotive vehicles & parts, 2.8% (5.9% y/y) in capital goods excluding autos, 2.6% (1.3% y/y) in nonfood consumer goods excluding autos, and 0.7% (-0.6% y/y) in other goods. In contrast, imports of industrial supplies & materials slid 0.4% (-8.2% y/y) in February, the fourth m/m slide in five months, after a 2.3% drop in January.

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.

  • Winnie Tapasanun has been working for Haver Analytics since 2013. She has ~20 years of working in the financial services industry. As Vice President and Economic Analyst at Globicus International, Inc., a New York-based company specializing in macroeconomics and financial markets, Winnie oversaw the company’s business operations, managed financial and economic data, and wrote daily reports on macroeconomics and financial markets. Prior to working at Globicus, she was Investment Promotion Officer at the New York Office of the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) where she wrote monthly reports on the U.S. economic outlook, wrote reports on the outlook of key U.S. industries, and assisted investors on doing business and investment in Thailand. Prior to joining the BOI, she was Adjunct Professor teaching International Political Economy/International Relations at the City College of New York. Prior to her teaching experience at the CCNY, Winnie successfully completed internships at the United Nations.   Winnie holds an MA Degree from Long Island University, New York. She also did graduate studies at Columbia University in the City of New York and doctoral requirements at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her areas of specialization are international political economy, macroeconomics, financial markets, political economy, international relations, and business development/business strategy. Her regional specialization includes, but not limited to, Southeast Asia and East Asia.   Winnie is bilingual in English and Thai with competency in French. She loves to travel (~30 countries) to better understand each country’s unique economy, fascinating culture and people as well as the global economy as a whole.

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