US exports at a record high

Tim Wallace
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US EXPORTS soared while imports declined slightly in July, resulting in the largest fall in the trade gap for over two years.

At $44.8bn (£27.9bn), the gap is 13.1 per cent lower than in the previous month. Exports increased by 3.6 per cent to $178bn and imports fell by 0.2 per cent to $222.8bn – in part helped by the declining price of oil.

The value of exports in July was the highest on record. In particular, $14.7bn of exports went to South and Central America, also representing an unprecedented value.

Over the course of the first seven months of the year, total exports reached $1,209bn, up 16 per cent on the same period of 2010, which saw exports of $1,042.

Not all factors worked in favour of a reduced trade deficit, however.

Exports to China increased, but were outstripped by rises in imports from the country, now standing at $8.17bn and $35.13bn respectively, creating the largest ever trade deficit with China.

“The global marketplace presents vast opportunities for US companies and today’s trade report shows they are taking advantage of those,” said acting commerce secretary Rebecca Blank. “The figures keep us on track to meet the President’s goal of doubling exports by 2015.”

She stressed that high export levels support US jobs, but initial jobless claims this week countered those hopes, with unexpectedly high figures reported.

Canada also saw an unexpectedly large fall in its trade deficit in July.

An expansion of 2.2 per cent saw exports rise to C$37.3bn (£23.6bn). That cut the deficit to C$753m, down from C$1.4bn, because imports increased by only 0.5 per cent, to C$38bn. Export volumes increased by 4.1 per cent, but a 1.9 per cent fall in prices reduced the impact on the trade balance, according to Statistics Canada.

The country’s economy was hit by the Japanese tsunami in March, but import levels surpassed the C$800m mark in July, showing trade had reached levels similar to those before the disaster struck.