The US Trade Balance shrank to $43.7 billion in March, from an upward revised $43.8 billion in February, marking the month's deficit the smallest since October and less than the conesnus estimate of $44.5 billion. Imports declined by $1.7 billion, or 0.7%, to $234.7 billion, while exports dipped fractionally more, or 0.9%, even as the recently weaker dollar did little to boost US exports. Notably, the US trade deficit with China was $31.4 billion, followed by the European Union at $10 billion. The trade deficit excluding petroleum stood at $35.82b in March.
The details: the deficit decreased in March 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit decreased from $43.8 billion in February (revised) to $43.7 billion in March, as imports decreased more than exports. The previously published February deficit was $43.6 billion. The goods deficit increased $0.4 billion in March to $65.5 billion. The services surplus increased $0.4 billion in March to $21.8 billion.
The March decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $0.4 billion to $65.5 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $0.4 billion to $21.8 billion.
Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $9.4 billion, or 7.5 percent, from the same period in 2016. Exports increased $38.0 billion or 7.1 percent. Imports increased $47.5 billion or 7.1 percent
Exports of goods and services decreased $1.7 billion, or 0.9 percent, in March to $191.0 billion. Exports of goods decreased $2.1 billion and exports of services increased $0.4 billion.
- The decrease in exports of goods mainly reflected decreases in industrial supplies and materials ($1.8 billion) and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.9 billion). An increase in capital goods ($0.7 billion) partly offset the decreases.
- The increase in exports of services mainly reflected increases in financial services ($0.1 billion) and in maintenance and repair services ($0.1 billion).
Imports of goods and services decreased $1.7 billion, or 0.7 percent, in March to $234.7 billion. Imports of goods decreased $1.7 billion and imports of services decreased less than $0.1 billion.
- The decrease in imports of goods mostly reflected decreases in capital goods ($0.9 billion) and in industrial supplies and materials ($0.7 billion). An increase in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($1.1 billion) partly offset the decreases.
- The decrease in imports of services mainly reflected a decrease in transport ($0.1 billion), which includes freight and port services and passenger fares.
Broken down geographically, the March figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with Hong Kong ($2.9), South and Central America ($2.6), Singapore ($0.5), United Kingdom ($0.5), and Brazil ($0.2). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China ($31.4), European Union ($10.0), Mexico ($6.5), Japan ($6.5), Germany ($5.0), South Korea ($2.5), Italy ($2.1), Canada ($1.9), India ($1.7), OPEC ($1.6), Taiwan ($1.1), Saudi Arabia ($0.8), and France ($0.1).
- The deficit with Japan increased $1.6 billion to $6.5 billion in March. Exports decreased $0.2billion to $5.3 billion and imports increased $1.4 billion to $11.8 billion.
- The deficit with South Korea increased $0.6billion to $2.5 billion in March.Exports increased $0.1billion to $3.9 billion and imports increased $0.8 billion to $6.5 billion.
- The deficit with France decreased $1.2 billion to $0.1 billion in March.Exports increased $0.6billion to $3.3 billion and imports decreased $0.6 billion to $3.5 billion.
While still a significant hole, the declining deficit trend will likely provide some satisfaction to president Trump; that said the US has a monumental task ahead of it if it wants to shrink the gap to zero.