By: Joe Kafchinski
The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $43.7 billion in April from $46.8 billion (revised) in March, as exports increased and imports decreased. April exports of goods and services increased $2.2 billion to $175.6 billion, setting a record for the second straight month. Imports declined $1.0 billion to $219.2 billion.
Record exports in industrial supplies and materials ($43.4 billion) and capital goods ($41.0 billion) contributed to the record in overall exports of goods. Exports of petroleum reached $9.9 billion in April, also a record. Petroleum also contributed to the decrease in imports, as petroleum imports fell $2.1 billion from March to April, to $36.0 billion.
Although the earthquake and resulting tsunamis that hit Japan occurred in March, this was the first U.S. trade report where we see the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on trade between the U.S. and Japan. In fact, the decrease in imports from Japan between March and April was $3.0 billion. Previously, the largest single-month decrease in imports from Japan had been $2.0 billion, from December 2002 to January 2003. Imports of motor vehicles alone fell $2.3 billion.
U.S. exports to Japan have not been affected the way imports have. Exports to Japan did fall $545 million, but that is not unusual between March and April. There have been 14 larger decreases in exports to Japan between March and April since 1985.