Today’s Release of Trade Statistics

October 13, 2011

The United States, Canada, and Great Britain reported August trade figures today, while China released its statistics for September.

The U.S. goods and services trade deficits in July and August were almost identical at $45.625 billion and $45.608 billion.  The deficit in the first half of 2011 averaged $47.494 billion, by comparison.  The census-basis U.S. merchandise trade deficit of $60.3 billion per month in January-August was 15.5% wider than a year earlier.  37.3% of that incremental growth involved trade with OPEC, followed by contributions of 24.3% from China, 21.2% from Euroland, and 16.9% from other countries in the Western Hemisphere.  The average monthly deficit with China of $23.7 billion over the first eight months of 2011 accounted for 39.1% of the entire U.S. imbalance.

Canada’s average merchandise trade deficit of CAD 580 million in July and August was roughly half as big as the monthly average in the second quarter.  Over the first seven months of 2011, exports had recorded alternating increases and declines.  Exports went up 0.5% in August but were only 1.3% bigger than in the final month of 2010.  The CAD 622 million deficit in August resulted from a CAD 5.175 billion deficit in non-energy trade, mitigated by a CAD 4.553 billion energy surplus.  Bank of Canada officials project little growth impetus from net exports.  Following a 2.1 percentage point drag on GDP growth in 2010, they project a 0.4 percentage point additional depressant this year and positive contributions of only 0.3 and 0.1 percentage points in 2012 and 2013.  Canada’s current account deficit is running between 2.5% and 3.0% of GDP.

Britain also has a current account shortfall of close to 2% of GDP.  The goods and services deficit in August (GBP 1.877 billion), however, was 17.4% smaller than the July deficit, and the July-August average deficit was 8.2% lower than the 2Q monthly mean.  The merchandise trade deficit moreover dipped below GBP 8 billion to post a shortfall in August of GBP 7.768 billion.  Trade in services resulted in similar surpluses in August of GBP 5.89 billion and July of GBP 5.88 billion.

China’s trade surplus narrowed more sharply than expected in September, falling 18.3% to $14.51 billion.  China’s biggest monthly surplus of 2011, $31.48 billion, occurred in June, and the September figure was almost as small as May’s $13.05 billion.  On-year growth in exports slowed to 17.1% in September from 24.5% in August, while import growth dropped even more sharply to 20.9% from 30.2% in the previous month.  These trade figures corroborate other data that suggest a slower rate of Chinese economic growth.  Neither monetary policy nor fiscal policy has reversed gears in that country, and officials remain concerned about persistent inflation risks.

Copyright 2011, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.



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