WASHINGTON – The US trade gap widened in May to $ 71.2 billion, the second largest on record, as imports grew faster than exports.
The Commerce Department said on Friday that the deficit increased 3% from April’s revised deficit of $ 69.1 billion. The US trade deficit hit a monthly record of $ 75 billion in March.
In May, US goods and services exports rose 0.6% to $ 206 billion. But this was offset by a 1.3% gain in imports to $ 277.3 billion.
In the first five months of this year, the U.S. trade deficit stands at $ 353.1 billion, up 45.8 percent from the deficit for the same period last year, when the Americans’ appetite for imported goods was dampened by the pandemic.
This year, the improving US economy has increased demand for imports while the rest of the world is recovering more slowly, dampening demand for US exports. The trade deficit is the gap between what America sells abroad and what the country imports.
Logistics bottlenecks induced by the pandemic have desynchronized global supply chains, causing delays at ports, shortages of pallets and containers and record shipping rates.
The merchandise trade deficit increased 2.7% to $ 89.2 billion, while the services trade surplus increased 0.7% to $ 17.9 billion, rebounding from with the lowest positive balance since 2012.
Since the pandemic, the surplus of services in the United States has shrunk given the impact of the pandemic on travel, while the goods deficit has grown as American consumption patterns have shifted in favor of ‘a greater number of purchases of goods.
But analysts believe that trend will return to more normal patterns in the coming months as the effects of the pandemic abate.
“As pandemic distortions dissipate and global economies restart more fully, imports and exports will likely rebalance with support from services,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.
US exports were boosted by increased shipments of petroleum products, organic chemicals and natural gas, while higher imports were boosted by an increase in the value of crude oil shipments.
Travel is slowly picking up, with visitor spending in the United States increasing 11%, the most this year, to $ 5.4 billion. This is still about two-thirds lower than pre-pandemic levels. U.S. tourists, meanwhile, are also traveling more, with travel exports rising 17% to $ 3.7 billion.
The value of motor vehicle exports fell 4.6% to $ 11.4 billion, while vehicle imports edged down to $ 29.2 billion as global manufacturers faced a shortage of chips.
Also reflecting demand for semiconductors, the value of U.S. goods imports from Taiwan, a major chip exporter, widened to $ 3.4 billion as President Joe Biden is offering $ 50 billion for manufacturing and researching chips as part of an effort to address a shortage in the home.
Information for this article was provided by Martin Crutsinger of The Associated Press and Augusta Saraiva and Eric Martin of Bloomberg News (WPNS)