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US trade deficit surges to record US$74b as shortfall with China rises

THE US trade deficit hit a fresh record high in March with the imbalance in goods and services with the rest of the world increasing to US$74

06 May 2021 - 19:00
THE US trade deficit hit a fresh record high in March with the imbalance in goods and services with the rest of the world increasing to US$74.4 billion, the Commerce Department said.

That's the highest level ever in a data series that goes back to January 1992, and represents a 57.6 per cent increase from the same period a year ago and higher than the $70.5 billion in February, reports CNBC.



The deficit increase has been attributed to the consumers flush with government cash spurred a continuing demand for foreign-made goods. With a new round of $1,400 stimulus cheques pouring in and the domestic economy continuing to show substantial improvement.



The trade imbalance with China increased more than 22 per cent to $36.9 billion. The deficit with Mexico rose 23.5 per cent to $8.4 billion.



'Stimulus has kept American consumers spending through the pandemic, but restrictions on high-contact industries have diverted consumer spending from domestically produced services to goods, much of which are imported,' Bill Adams, senior economist at PNC, wrote.



Exports actually increased for the month, rising $200 billion or 6.6 per cent. But that was offset by a continued demand for imported goods, which increased 6.3 per cent or $274.5 billion.



The deficit has risen nearly 10 per cent in 2021 alone and has exploded from the $47.2 billion level in March 2020, just as the US was entering the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Imports in 2021 have increased by 8.5 per cent while exports have fallen 3.5 per cent.



Mr Adams said the shortfall is likely to decline in coming months as the recovery progresses.



'As the pandemic comes under control in the United States, American consumers will spend less on imported goods, shrinking imports; and foreigners will buy more US exports as their economies recover further,' he said.


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