Manufactured Goods Deficit Grows In February

By April 13, 2010Trade

Manufactured goods continued to dominate U.S. trade in February 2010, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Manufactured goods comprised 80 percent of U.S. merchandise exports, compared to 10 percent for agricultural exports. Manufactured goods also accounted for 75 percent of merchandise imports.

Both exports and imports of manufactured goods grew in February compared to January, but the 3.9 percent increase in imports exceeded the 1.6 percent increase in exports. As a result, the manufactured goods trade deficit grew to a seasonally-adjusted $31.1 billion in February compared to $28.1 billion in January. Two-thirds of that increase was accounted for by rapid rises in imports of computers, TV sets, and steel, coupled with an unusual 25 percent drop in the highly volatile category of civilian aircraft exports -– which are subject to large fluctuations depending upon the number of aircraft delivered in a particular month.

Compared to February 2009, the rebound in trade was evident in both exports and imports, with February 2010 exports being 14 percent large than a year ago, while imports were up 17 percent.

To meet the President’s goal of doubling exports in five years, exports must grow at an annual rate of 15 percent, so for the first two months of the five-year growth period, exports are basically on track. This, however, is largely due to the fact that exports are recovering from a huge fall last year. Continued rapid growth of U.S. exports will require policy and programmatic changes that will spur the ability and capacity of U.S. companies to penetrate foreign markets more deeply.

U.S. manufacturers continued to enjoy a surplus in trade with U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) partners. Manufactured goods trade with FTA partners was in surplus by nearly $1 billion in January, while manufactured goods trade with countries not having a trade agreement with the United States was in deficit by $26 billion (February data not yet available).

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