The US trade deficit hit a four year low of $34.3 billion in November, 2013, as exports rose to a record $194.9 billion and imports fell to $229.1 billion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the US Commerce Department. The October trade deficit had been $39.3 billion.
A smaller trade gap raises US economic growth as domestic manufacturers and providers of services sell more of their goods abroad and consumers buy relatively fewer foreign goods and services.
The US November goods deficit fell by $4.9 billion compared to the previous month to $53.9 billion, while the services surplus rose by $0.2 billion to $19.7 billion.
Goods exports rose by $1.5 billion to $137.1 billion while goods imports fell by $3.4 billion to $191 billion.
Services exports increased to $57.8 billion (+$0.3 billion) while services imports increased to $38.1 billion (+$0.1 billion).
Compared to November 2012, the goods and services deficit fell by $12.2 billion in November 2013. Exports increased by $9.6 billion (5.2%) while imports declined by $2.5 billion (-1.1%).
November’s increase in the exports of goods compared to October was mainly due to increases in:
- industrial supplies and materials – $0.7 billion.
- other goods – $0.5 billion.
- capital goods – $0.3 billion.
- automotive vehicle parts and engines – $0.1 billion.
Decreases in imports of goods occurred mainly in consumer goods ($0.5 billion) and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.1 billion).
If the economy grows strongly in 2014 and consumers spend more, as expected, imports will increase.
Oil boom helps reduce US trade deficit
New drilling techniques have helped bring about another oil boom in the US, especially in North Dakota and Texas. By 2015 the United States is expected to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the top oil producer in the world. According to the International Energy Agency the US will be self-sufficient in oil for at least twenty years.
Reuters news agency quoted Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York, who said “The shale revolution and increased energy efficiency have pushed the U.S. a long ways towards energy independence.”
US exports support nearly 10 million American jobs
Regarding November’s trade deficit results, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said:
“Today’s data show that U.S. exports continue to be a bright spot in our economic recovery. U.S. exports currently support nearly 10 million American jobs, but we must do more to open doors for American goods and services.”
“That is why increasing U.S. trade and investment is a key priority of the Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda.’ We are committed to helping more U.S. companies participate in the global marketplace, ensuring strong enforcement of trade rules, and negotiating transpacific and transatlantic free trade agreements to open more markets and support more American jobs.”