Tough Week on U.S. Trade Front

The week marking the Independence Day holiday was not particularly kind to the United States on the trade front, as the nation found itself again facing a widening import-export gap as well as new calls to delay a new pact with the European Union.

Earlier this week, statistics indicated the U.S. trade deficit increased by more the 12% to $45 billion in May. The month’s total marks the biggest deficit logged in 2013 on an increase in imports within categories such as automobiles, smart phones and fuel-related products. Imports stopped just short of breaking a record at $232.1 billion, up nearly 2% from the previous mark, though that could mean the positive of increased consumer spending. However, experts were disappointed that exports slumped on lessoned demand from key partners, notably in the debt-sacked EU.

Speaking of the EU, negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, designed to address already low bars on the high amount of trade between the two sides, hit a snag because of non-business policy out of the U.S. French officials are calling on fellow EU members to delay the start of any negotiations as part of fallout from revelations that the U.S. National Security Administration was spying on its own citizens and newer allegations that it conducted surveillance operations on EU members. Granted, the move could be rooted somewhat in the perception that France was already not particularly enthused about new easing of trade restrictions between the U.S. and EU through such a pact since talk of reopening negotiations erupted.

The TTIP has quickly become one of the President's top trade priorities since it was addressed during this year’s State of the Union address. Less than two months earlier, FCIB Global Conferences speaker Carlos Montoulieu, of the U.S. Department of Commerce, told NACM that the administration was working hard on multiple multi-lateral trade pact because they were more feasible to attain than bilateral deals and that there was already “a lot of momentum” behind deals involving a group of trade partners.  

-Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer

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