U.S. Trade Gap Widens Again in May

The U.S. trade deficit increased again in May. It is now up to $60.6 billion, from $57.5 billion the prior month, as exports of industrial supplies, capital goods and automobiles all receded.

In May, U.S. exports of industrial supplies dropped to $32.2 billion from $32.4 billion in April, while capital goods exports declined to $42.7 billion from $43.7 billion in April and exports of automobiles dropped to $12.3 billion from $12.6 billion, according to the Census Bureau’s Advance Report on U.S. International Trade in Goods, released this morning.

Overall imports, meanwhile, increased to $179.6 billion in May from $176.8 billion in April. Imports of industrial supplies increased to $35.8 billion from $33.9 billion, as imports of automobiles increased to $29 billion from $28.7 billion, Census said. Imports of capital goods, meanwhile, dropped to $48.5 billion from $49.2 billion.

Weak exports/imports data are fueled in part by a soft global market and could be set to retrench further in light of ongoing global economic instability and reduced growth projections in traditional and emerging economies alike. 

Countries like the United States with close trade ties to the United Kingdom are likely to feel pressure from the uncertainty that accompanies the "Brexit." For example, a new trade arrangement would need to be made preferably before the U.K actually leaves the European Union, notes a report by trade credit insurer Atradius. Trade sectors that are mostly likely to be impacted by this are transportation equipment, food, textiles, electrical equipment and chemicals.

- Nicholas Stern, editorial associate

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