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US Trade Gap Narrowed Slightly in April Thanks to Rising Goods Exports

June 9, 2021
The U.S. maintained a trade deficit with China and the E.U., but both gaps shrank slightly.

According to the latest data available from the United States Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. trade gap is narrowing. Information released June 8 shows that exports rose 1.1% in April while imports fell by 1.4%. The trade gap between exports and imports fell by 8.2% from April to March.

U.S. exports rose $2.3 billion from March to $205.0 billion, while imports fell $3.8 billion to $273.9 billion, leaving a trade gap of $68.9 billion.

Export growth was mostly driven by goods exports, which rose $1.6 billion to $145.3 billion in April, while services exports made up the remaining $700 million increase. Higher sales of capital goods and industrial supplies helped offset losses in auto parts and vehicles.

Capital goods exports rose $2.1 billion, of which civilian aircraft made up $1.4 billion—a positive sign for a resurgent travel industry. Exports of industrial supplies and materials rose a net $800 million, with increases in oil and petroleum products between $1-0.5 billion offsetting a drop in the amount of nonmonetary gold, which fell $1.3 billion.

Goods exports gains were offset by losses in automotive goods exports, which declined by $1 billion in April. Automotive parts and accessories exports declined by $400 million, and exports of trucks, busses, and other special purpose vehicles fell $400 million more.

The change in imports was also mostly driven by goods, which decreased by $4.6 billion in April. Imports of consumer goods fell $2.6 billion, with toys and sporting goods and household appliances imports each falling by $700 million. Imports of cell phones and other household goods, on the other hand, rose by $1.7 billion.

Outside of consumer goods, imported automotive parts and vehicles fell a total of $1.1 billion. Imports of auto parts and accessories fell $700 million, and the total value of imported passenger cars decreased by $500 million.

On the individual-countries level, U.S. trade deficits with China and the European Union. The U.S.-China trade gap decreased from $7.1 billion to $32.4 billion as exports to China rose $1 billion to $13.1 billion and imports fell $6 billion to $45.5 billion. The deficit with the E.U. fell $1 billion to $16.1 billion. On the other side, the U.S. maintained surpluses with South and Central America, Hong Kong, and Brazil of more than a billion dollars each.

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