International Financial Law Prof Blog

Editor: William Byrnes
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Saturday, February 13, 2021

U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, December 2020

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that the goods and services deficit was $66.6 billion in December, down $2.4 billion from $69.0 billion in November, revised.

U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Deficit
Deficit:

$66.6 Billion

-3.5%°

Exports:

$190.0 Billion

+3.4%°

Imports:

$256.6 Billion

+1.5%°

Next release: March 5, 2021

(°) Statistical significance is not applicable or not measurable. Data adjusted for seasonality but not price changes

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis; U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, February 5, 2021

Goods and Services Trade Deficit: Seasonally adjusted
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on International Trade in Goods and Services

Exports and imports in December 2020 reflect both the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued economic recovery from the sharp declines earlier in the year. The full economic effects of the pandemic cannot be quantified in the trade statistics because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified. The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis continue to monitor data quality and have determined estimates in this release meet publication standards. For more information, see the frequently asked questions on goods from the Census Bureau and on services from BEA.

Exports, Imports, and Balance (exhibit 1)

December exports were $190.0 billion, $6.2 billion more than November exports. December imports were $256.6 billion, $3.8 billion more than November imports.

The December decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected a decrease in the goods deficit of $2.8 billion to $84.2 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $0.4 billion to $17.5 billion.

For 2020, the goods and services deficit increased $101.9 billion, or 17.7 percent, from 2019. Exports decreased $396.4 billion or 15.7 percent. Imports decreased $294.5 billion or 9.5 percent.

Three-Month Moving Averages (exhibit 2)

The average goods and services deficit increased $1.3 billion to $66.5 billion for the three months ending in December.

  • Average exports increased $4.0 billion to $185.2 billion in December.
  • Average imports increased $5.3 billion to $251.6 billion in December.

Year-over-year, the average goods and services deficit increased $23.2 billion from the three months ending in December 2019.

  • Average exports decreased $25.7 billion from December 2019.
  • Average imports decreased $2.5 billion from December 2019.

Exports (exhibits 3, 6, and 7)

Exports of goods increased $6.0 billion to $133.5 billion in December.

  Exports of goods on a Census basis increased $5.9 billion.

  • Industrial supplies and materials increased $1.8 billion.
    • Crude oil increased $1.3 billion.
  • Foods, feeds, and beverages increased $1.4 billion.
    • Soybeans increased $1.0 billion.
  • Capital goods increased $1.1 billion.
  • Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines increased $0.9 billion.

  Net balance of payments adjustments increased $0.1 billion.

Exports of services increased $0.3 billion to $56.5 billion in December.

  • Travel increased $0.2 billion.

Imports (exhibits 4, 6, and 8)

Imports of goods increased $3.1 billion to $217.7 billion in December.

  Imports of goods on a Census basis increased $3.0 billion.

  • Industrial supplies and materials increased $2.7 billion.
    • Finished metal shapes increased $1.2 billion.
    • Other petroleum products increased $0.4 billion.
    • Crude oil increased $0.4 billion.
  • Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines increased $2.0 billion.
    • Passenger cars increased $1.6 billion.
  • Consumer goods decreased $1.9 billion.
    • Cell phones and other household goods decreased $1.5 billion.
    • Pharmaceutical preparations decreased $1.1 billion.

  Net balance of payments adjustments increased $0.2 billion.

Imports of services increased $0.7 billion to $38.9 billion in December.

  • Travel increased $0.5 billion.
  • Transport increased $0.2 billion.

Real Goods in 2012 Dollars – Census Basis (exhibit 11)

The real goods deficit decreased $2.4 billion to $94.8 billion in December.

  • Real exports of goods increased $4.0 billion to $148.4 billion.
  • Real imports of goods increased $1.6 billion to $243.2 billion.

Revisions

In addition to revisions to source data for the November statistics, the seasonally adjusted goods data were revised for January through November so that the totals of the seasonally adjusted months equal the annual totals.

Revisions to November exports

  • Exports of goods were revised down $0.2 billion.
  • Exports of services were revised down $0.2 billion.

Revisions to November imports

  • Imports of goods were revised up $0.5 billion.
  • Imports of services were revised down less than $0.1 billion.

Goods by Selected Countries and Areas: Monthly – Census Basis (exhibit 19)

The December figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with South and Central America ($3.9), Hong Kong ($2.1), OPEC ($1.9), Brazil ($0.8), Saudi Arabia ($0.6), and United Kingdom ($0.2). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China ($28.1), European Union ($19.2), Mexico ($10.3), Germany ($5.8), Japan ($5.5), Taiwan ($3.2), Italy ($3.2), India ($2.8), South Korea ($2.7), France ($1.6), Canada ($1.1), and Singapore ($0.9).

  • The deficit with China decreased $2.3 billion to $28.1 billion in December. Exports increased $0.8 billion to $13.5 billion and imports decreased $1.5 billion to $41.7 billion.
  • The deficit with Japan decreased $1.1 billion to $5.5 billion in December. Exports increased $0.3 billion to $5.5 billion and imports decreased $0.8 billion to $11.0 billion.
  • The deficit with the European Union increased $2.5 billion to $19.2 billion in December. Exports decreased $0.7 billion to $19.7 billion and imports increased $1.7 billion to $38.9 billion.

Annual Summary for 2020

Exports, Imports, and Balance (exhibit 1)

For 2020, the goods and services deficit was $678.7 billion, up $101.9 billion from $576.9 billion in 2019. Exports were $2,131.9 billion, down $396.4 billion from 2019. Imports were $2,810.6 billion, down $294.5 billion from 2019.

U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, Annual 2020

The 2020 increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $51.5 billion, or 6.0 percent, to $915.8 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $50.4 billion, or 17.5 percent, to $237.1 billion.

As a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product, the goods and services deficit was 3.2 percent in 2020, up from 2.7 percent in 2019.

Exports (exhibits 3, 6, and 7)

Exports of goods decreased $217.7 billion to $1,434.8 billion in 2020.

  Exports of goods on a Census basis decreased $211.5 billion.

  • Capital goods decreased $87.5 billion.
    • Civilian aircraft decreased $27.4 billion.
    • Civilian aircraft engines decreased $18.4 billion.
  • Industrial supplies and materials decreased $59.2 billion.
    • Other petroleum products decreased $15.5 billion.
    • Crude oil decreased $14.8 billion.
    • Fuel oil decreased $13.3 billion.
  • Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines decreased $35.3 billion.
    • Automotive parts and accessories decreased $13.3 billion.
    • Passenger cars decreased $10.5 billion.
  • Consumer goods decreased $30.8 billion.
    • Gem diamonds decreased $8.5 billion.
    • Artwork, antiques, and other collectibles decreased $4.5 billion.
    • Jewelry decreased $4.4 billion.

  Net balance of payments adjustments decreased $6.1 billion.

Exports of services decreased $178.7 billion to $697.1 billion in 2020.

  • Travel decreased $117.2 billion.
  • Transport decreased $34.7 billion.

Imports (exhibits 4, 6, and 8)

Imports of goods decreased $166.2 billion to $2,350.6 billion in 2020.

  Imports of goods on a Census basis decreased $161.0 billion.

  • Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines decreased $65.2 billion.
    • Passenger cars decreased $33.4 billion.
    • Automotive parts and accessories decreased $15.3 billion.
    • Trucks, buses, and special purpose vehicles decreased $10.8 billion.
  • Industrial supplies and materials decreased $42.3 billion.
    • Crude oil decreased $50.2 billion.
    • Other petroleum products decreased $16.5 billion.
    • Nonmonetary gold increased $25.1 billion.
    • Finished metal shapes increased $23.7 billion.
  • Capital goods decreased $31.2 billion.
    • Civilian aircraft engines decreased $11.1 billion.
    • Other industrial machinery decreased $6.7 billion.
    • Civilian aircraft parts decreased $6.7 billion.
    • Computers increased $11.5 billion.

  Net balance of payments adjustments decreased $5.3 billion.

Imports of services decreased $128.3 billion to $460.1 billion in 2020.

  • Travel decreased $95.3 billion.
  • Transport decreased $35.9 billion.

Goods by Selected Countries and Areas – Census Basis (exhibits 14 and 14a)

The 2020 figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with South and Central America ($39.8), Netherlands ($18.1), Hong Kong ($16.1), OPEC ($15.7), Brazil ($11.7), Australia ($9.1), United Kingdom ($8.8), and Belgium ($6.7). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China ($310.8), European Union ($183.4), Mexico ($112.7), Germany ($57.3), Switzerland ($56.7), Ireland ($55.9), Japan ($55.4), Malaysia ($31.7), Taiwan ($29.9), Italy ($29.5), Thailand ($26.4), South Korea ($24.8), India ($23.8), France ($15.6), Canada ($15.0), Indonesia ($12.8), and Russia ($12.0).

  • The deficit with Switzerland increased $30.0 billion to $56.7 billion in 2020. Exports increased $0.1 billion to $18.0 billion and imports increased $30.1 billion to $74.8 billion.
  • The surplus with South and Central America decreased $13.0 billion to $39.8 billion in 2020. Exports decreased $31.2 billion to $130.5 billion and imports decreased $18.2 billion to $90.7 billion.
  • The deficit with China decreased $34.4 billion to $310.8 billion in 2020. Exports increased $18.2 billion to $124.6 billion and imports decreased $16.2 billion to $435.4 billion.

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