Experts expected the US trade deficit to hold steady or decrease in February but missed the mark. The US Commerce Department noted a $42.3 billion deficit in goods and services for February, up from the $39.3 billion posted in January.
The drop in exports of goods contributed to the elevated deficit, with decreases in industrial supplies/materials and capital goods leading the pace. A falloff in those categories could not be outdone by export increases in consumer goods and automotive vehicles/parts/engines. Exporting levels for goods were, however, about on part with the pace of February 2013.
In a prepared statement, Commerce officials tried to spin the positives within recent data, namely consistency in service-side exporting, which held stable from January to February. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker noted the record levels for service exports, driven primarily by royalties and license fees.
Not seasonally adjusted, the biggest US deficits continue to be with China ($20.9 billion) and the European Union ($9.1 billion). Deficits also continued with both North American neighbors Canada ($1.9 billion) and Mexico ($4 billion). There were, however, surpluses, though in smaller numbers, with trading partners including Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and Brazil.
- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer