September a Good Month for Manufactured Goods Trade – But Trend Slowing

By November 10, 2010Economy, Trade

Manufacturing trade improved in September compared to August, but the overall trend shows a slowing in export growth. 

Department of Commerce trade data released today showed that on a seasonally adjusted basis, U.S. manufactured goods exports were $85.8 billion in September, up $1.6 billion – nearly two percent larger than in August.  Manufactured goods imports fell $3.1 billion to $120.9 billion – a 2.7 percent decline from August.  As a result the manufactured goods trade deficit stood at $35 billion – nearly $5 billion less than August’s $40 billion deficit.  Declines in imports of autos and consumer goods were particularly notable.

Looking at the longer-term trend, manufactured goods export growth appears to be slowing.  The September figures were 16 percent above September 2009, but this is the first time in the last six months that the year-over-year growth figures have slipped below 20 percent.  In fact, despite the good August-September growth, the September figure was just about the same size as July’s.

Capital goods exports, which are so vital to the U.S. export position, have shown no growth since May. This key part of our trade position has now slipped into deficit for two months running.  Clearly this underlines the need for strong action to support faster U.S. export growth to reach the goal of doubling exports by 2014.

U.S. manufactured goods trade with free trade partners continued to be the brightest part of the trade picture as the surplus is now in its third year.  Through September, the U.S. manufactured goods surplus with free trade partners stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $20 billion, following the Commerce Department’s methodology.

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