U.S. Exports, Imports Rise for Fifth Month as Shipments to China Hit a Record -- Update
By Yuka Hayashi
WASHINGTON -- U.S. exports and imports both rose for a fifth
straight month in October, reflecting a continued recovery in
global commerce driven by a strong economic rebound in China.
Exports from the U.S. rose 2.2% to $182.0 billion from the
previous month, while imports rose 2.1% to $245.1 billion, the
Commerce Department said Friday. The trade deficit widened to $63.1
billion from $62.1 billion. The figures were adjusted for seasonal
Global trade has recovered more quickly than economists expected
since widespread lockdowns were imposed in March and April, but
activity remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Economists say the
outlook for trade remains uncertain amid a resurgence of the virus
and renewed lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe.
"Virus transmissions remain elevated, and widening restrictions
on activity, at home and abroad, have the potential to disrupt
supply chains and weigh on demand," Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S.
economist for High Frequency Economics said in a research note.
Compared with a year earlier, U.S. exports in October were down
13.5%, while imports fell 3.3%. The deficit increased 47%
A rapid recovery in China, which reported a 4.9% expansion in
its economy in the third quarter from a year earlier, is helping
drive global commerce. The International Monetary Fund projects
China will be the only major world economy to grow this year.
U.S. goods exports to China rose to a record $14.72 billion in
October from $11.54 billion in September, without adjusting for
seasonal variations. Imports from China rose to $44.83 billion from
$41.21 billion, hitting the highest level since December 2018.
Adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, however, exports of goods to
China rose 9.3% to $13.14 billion in October, while imports
expanded 9.1% to $39.68 billion. That left the trade deficit 9%
wider at $26.55 billion.
As part of the "Phase One" trade deal signed in January, Beijing
committed to buying an additional $200 billion of American-made
goods and services over 2020 and 2012. Due in part to the
pandemic-induced slowdown, China has remained behind the pace to
reach the goal, said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at Peterson
Institute for International Economics
"Despite the good news about the additional U.S. exports in
October, China's purchases remain only at 57% of their year-to-date
targets set out under President Trump's Phase One agreement." he
said. "To meet the annual target, China would need to buy more than
half of the goods it promised for all of 2020 in November and
In the 10 months through October, China-bound exports of goods
rose to $95.82 billion, from $87.44 billion in the same period last
year. Imports fell to $348.72 billion, from $381.55 billion a year
earlier. Exports of services to China have remained depressed due
to sharp drops in tourism and education spending.
In October, U.S. imports of consumer goods, including
cellphones, rose to $57.19 billion from $55.78 billion in
September, reflecting a recovery in domestic demand.
Meanwhile, imports of capital goods -- a proxy for domestic
investments by companies -- rose to $56.88 billion in October from
$55.51 billion in September, led by higher purchases of computer
accessories and industrial machinery. Automotive imports rose to
$32.20 billion from $31.19 billion a month earlier as consumers
took advantage of low interest rates to buy cars.
Year-to-date through October, U.S. exports overall were down
16.4% compared with the same period last year, while Imports were
down 11.5%. As imports have recovered more quickly than exports,
the overall deficit in goods and services has widened by 9.5% to
Write to Yuka Hayashi at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 04, 2020 15:52 ET (20:52 GMT)
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