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May U.S. Goods And Services Trade Deficit Dips

International trade in goods and services for May showed the U.S. deficit dropping as exports outpaced imports for both the month and year over year, government data show. Goods categories leading the rise in exports included automotive and consumer products as well as industrial supplies and materials, and food. The travel and transport trade categories led the gains in services exports.

Foreign interest in U.S. goods and services is on the rise, a factor that could help continue to spur the U.S. economy and influence jobs growth.

U.S. international trade of goods and services in May showed a decreased deficit compared with the previous month, as exports were up $2 billion from April and imports dropped by $700 million, according to government data released July 3.

The U.S. government report comes a day after The International Commerce Committee (ICC) released its annual Global Survey, which found international trade growth overall has decreased significantly when compared with the years before the global financial crisis. ICC Banking Commission Executive Committee member Vincent O’Brien explained in the report that the ICC remained “casually optimistic,” however, the optimism is “framed within a fragile international trade environment.”

May exports of sales and services totaled $195.5 billion, up from $193.5 billion the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce. Imports for the month totaled $239.8 billion, down from $240.5 billion in April.

The goods and services deficit decreased by $400 million from May 2013. Year-over-year exports were up by $8.3 billion, or 4.4 percent, and imports were up by $7.8 billion, or 3.4 percent, the government data show.

In terms of goods trade, the May increase in exports compared with the previous month reflected boosts in various trade categories, including automotive vehicles, parts, and engines, up $800 million; other goods, up $500 million; consumer goods, up $400 million; industrial supplies and materials, up $200 million; and foods, feeds, and beverages, up $100 million Capital goods should a $200 million decrease, the government statistics show.

The April-to-May decrease in goods imports reflected decreases in industrial supplies and materials, down $1.7 billion; other goods, down $700 million; consumer goods, down $500 million; and foods, feeds, and beverages, down $200 million. Trade categories showing increases in goods exports were automotive vehicles, parts, and engines,  up $1.3 billion), and capital goods, up $1 billion.

Looking at annual trends, the May increase in exports of goods compared with a year earlier reflected increases in foods, feeds, and beverages, which were up $1.7 billion; industrial supplies and materials, up $1.4 billion; consumer goods, up $1.1 billion; other goods and capital goods, both up by $800 million; and automotive vehicles, parts, and engines, up $500 million.

The year-over-year increase in imports of goods reflected boosts in capital goods, up by $4 billion; automotive vehicles, parts, and engines, up $2.4 billion; consumer goods, up $1.4 billion; and foods, feeds, and beverages, which rose by $700 million. Decreases occurred in industrial supplies and materials, down by $1.5 billion, and other goods, down $800 million.

Exports of services in May were up $300 million from the previous month, driven by travel (for all purposes including education), which was $200 million; and transport, which includes freight and port services and passenger fares, up $100 million. Changes in the other categories of services exports were relatively small, the government said.

Imports of services were virtually unchanged from April to May. Changes in all categories of services imports were small and mostly offsetting, it added.

The May year-over-year increase in services exports was $1.9 billion, or 3.3 percent. The largest increases were in travel (for all purposes including education), which was up $1 billion); maintenance and repair services, up $400 million; and transport, up $300 million.

The increase in services imports over the same period was $1.5 billion, or 3.9 percent. The largest increases were in other business services, up $700 million, travel (for all purposes including education), up $600 million; and transport, up $400 million.

Three-month averages

For the three months ended in May, exports of goods and services averaged $194.2 billion, while imports of goods and services averaged $239.4 billion, resulting in an average trade deficit of $45.2 billion. For the three months ended in April, the average trade deficit was $44.6 billion, reflecting average exports of $191.8 billion and average imports of $236.4 billion, the government said.

The May figures show trade surpluses with various countries, including Hong Kong, $2.5 billion, down from $2.7 billion in April; Australia, $1.2 billion, down from $1.4 billion; Brazil, $1.1 billion and unchanged; and Singapore, $1 billion, up from $900 million.

Deficits were recorded with China $28.8 billion, up from $27.3 billion; European Union, $12.3 billion, down from $14 billion; Germany, $6.6 billion, down from $7 billion; Japan, $5.1 billion, down from $6 billion; Mexico, $4.3 billion, down from $4.6 billion; OPEC, $4.2 billion, down from $6.7 billion; Canada, $2.8 billion, up from $2.7 billion; South Korea, $2.7 billion, up from $2.3 billion; Saudi Arabia, $2.7 billion, down from $4.2 billion; India, $2.4 billion, down from $3.1 billion; Ireland, $2.1 billion, down from $2.6 billion; and Venezuela, $1.6 billion, down from $2 billion.

Advanced-technology products exports totaled $27.6 billion in May, while imports were $35.2 billion, resulting in a deficit of $7.6 billion. May exports were $600 million more than the $27 billion in April, while May imports were $100 million less than the $35.3 billion in April, the government said.

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