U.S. Trade Balance Improves In May As Deficit With China, Europe Shrinks

Coming in largely as expected, the U.S. monthly international trade deficit decreased in May 2017 from an unrevised $47.6 billion in April (revised) to $46.5 billion in May, fractionaly worse than consensus expectations of $46.3 billion, as exports increased and imports decreased. According to the BEA, the goods deficit decreased $0.9 billion in May to $67.5 billion. The services surplus increased $0.2 billion in May to $21.0 billion. The most notably item about today's release is that the deficit with both the EU and China, the two largest trading partners, shrank by $2.6BN and $2.0BN respectively.

Exports

Exports of goods and services increased $0.9 billion, or 0.4% percent, in May to $192.0 billion. Exports of goods increased $0.2 billion and exports of services increased $0.6 billion.

  • The increase in exports of goods mostly reflected increasesin consumer goods ($0.9 billion) and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines($0.6 billion). A decrease in foods, feeds, and beverages($0.7 billion) partly offset the increases.
  • The increase in exports of services mostly reflectedincreases in travel (for all purposes including education) ($0.3 billion) and in financial services($0.2 billion).

Imports

Imports of goods and services decreased $0.2 billion, or 0.1%percent, in May to $238.5 billion. Imports of goods decreased $0.6 billion and imports of services increased $0.4 billion.

  • The decrease in imports of goods mostly reflected decreasesin consumer goods ($1.5 billion) and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines($0.7 billion). An increase in capital goods ($1.3 billion) partly offset the decreases.
  • The increase in imports of services mostly reflected an increase in travel (for all purposes including education)($0.2 billion).

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Broken down geographically, the May figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with South and Central America ($2.4), Hong Kong ($2.3), Singapore ($0.8), Brazil ($0.8), and United Kingdom ($0.7).

Deficits were recorded with China ($30.1), European Union ($10.7), Mexico ($6.8), Japan ($6.4), Germany ($4.7), Italy ($2.4), Canada ($2.2), India ($2.0), Taiwan ($1.7), France ($1.7), OPEC ($1.1), South Korea ($0.8), and Saudi Arabia ($0.2).

  • The deficit with the European Union decreased $2.6 billion to $10.7 billion in May. Exports increased $0.5 billion to $23.4 billion and imports decreased $2.0 billion to $34.0 billion.
  • The deficit with China decreased $2.0 billion to $30.1 billion in May. Exports increased $0.6 billion to $11.3 billion and imports decreased $1.4 billion to $41.3 billion.