Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Mar 08 2023

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens to $68.29 Billion in January, a Three-Month High

  • Exports rebound following four consecutive m/m declines; imports rise for the fourth time in five months.
  • Real goods trade deficit widens to $101.76 billion, the biggest since October.
  • Month-on-month growth in goods exports exceeds growth in goods imports.
  • Petroleum imports rise after two straight m/m drops; nonpetroleum imports post their largest m/m gain since March ’22.
  • Goods trade deficits w/ China and Japan narrow; deficit w/ EU falls to a four-month low.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services (BOP basis) widened to $68.29 in January from a revised $67.21 billion in December ($67.42 billion originally) and $60.65 billion in November ($61.02 billion previously), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The January deficit was the largest since October but smaller than the $87.45 billion in January 2022. A $68.7 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports rose 3.4% m/m (13.3% y/y) in January, the first monthly rise since August and the fastest since last April, after a 1.2% drop in December (-0.9% originally). Imports increased 3.0% (3.5% y/y), the fourth m/m gain in five months and the biggest since last March, after a 1.1% December rebound (+1.3% originally).

The real (inflation-adjusted) goods trade deficit widened to $101.76 billion (chained 2012 dollars) in January, the largest in three months, from $98.22 billion in December; however, it narrowed from the $116.17 billion last January. Real exports of goods grew 3.8% (10.2% y/y) in January following a 1.4% rise in December and three straight m/m decreases. Real imports of goods rose 3.7% (0.3% y/y), the fourth m/m rise in five months, after a 1.7% December rebound. A narrowing trade balance (net exports) was a major contributor to overall real GDP growth, having added 2.9%-points in Q3 2022 and 0.5%-points in Q4 2022.

The customs value goods trade deficit widened to $91.09 billion in January, the biggest since October, from $89.87 billion in December (but smaller than the $106.76 billion last January). The latest figure was in line with a $91.50 billion deficit in the advance report released on February 28. Exports of goods (customs value) recovered 5.0% (12.2% y/y) in January, the first m/m gain since August, after a 2.0% decline in December, reflecting monthly increases of all the end-use categories: 21.2% (23.0% y/y) in nonfood consumer goods excluding autos, 8.2% (26.6% y/y) in automotive vehicles, parts & engines, 4.7% (6.0% y/y) in foods, feeds & beverages, 3.8% (8.8% y/y) in capital goods excluding autos, 0.7% (8.9% y/y) in industrial supplies & materials, and 0.1% (20.0% y/y) in other goods.

Imports of goods (customs value) increased 3.7% (1.2% y/y) in January, the fourth m/m advance in five months, after a 1.7% rebound in December. Imports of goods for automotive vehicles, parts & engines (8.8%; 17.9% y/y), nonfood consumer goods excluding autos (6.5%; -6.3% y/y), foods, feeds & beverages (5.1%; 3.1% y/y), capital goods excluding autos (1.9%; 5.7% y/y), and industrial supplies & materials (0.3%; -4.4% y/y) posted their m/m rises in January; however, imports for other goods fell back 1.0% (+2.0% y/y). Petroleum imports increased 0.4% (8.7% y/y) in January, the first m/m gain since October, after a 3.7% decline in December. Nonpetroleum imports rose 4.0% (0.6% y/y), the fourth m/m rise in five months and the largest since last March, after a 2.3% December rebound.

The surplus on services trade declined to $21.80 billion in January from $23.50 billion in December, but it was slightly up from $20.40 billion last January. The latest surplus was the smallest in three months and remained below a record-high $26.87 billion in January 2018. Services exports fell 2.0% (+12.5% y/y) in January, the largest m/m fall since last January, after a 0.7% increase in December. Services imports rose 0.2% (14.8% y/y), the first m/m rise since September, following a 1.0% December decline.

The goods trade deficit with China narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $21.91 billion in January after widening to $22.82 billion in December. Exports recovered 15.2% (13.5% y/y), the largest m/m gain since October 2021; imports rose 2.8% (-21.7% y/y), the second successive m/m rise. The trade deficit with Japan fell to $5.61 billion in January after widening to $7.16 billion in December as exports rebounded 5.4% (3.9% y/y) and imports fell back 9.2% (-9.9% y/y). The goods trade deficit with the European Union declined to $18.48 billion in January, the smallest since September, from $18.56 billion in December, with exports up 8.2% (32.1% y/y) and imports up 4.9% (21.6% y/y). These figures date back to January 2009.

The international trade data, including relevant data on oil prices, can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures on international trade are available in the USINT database. The expectations figures are from the Action Economics Forecast Survey in AS1REPNA.

  • Winnie Tapasanun has been working for Haver Analytics since 2013. She has almost 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.   A bilingual (English and Thai) with competency in French, Winnie loves to travel (25 countries so far) 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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