US February trade deficit swells to record US$71.1b

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The U.S. trade deficit grew to a record US$71.1 billion in February as a decline in exports more than offset a slight dip in imports, with severe weather taking much of the blame from analysts, who were expecting a slightly lower gap, AP reports.

The coronaviru disease pandemic has stifled global trade for more than a year, but those barriers appear to be falling as millions of people get vaccinated and countries start easing operating restrictions for businesses. Total trade after two months of 2021 is just 1.8 percent behind where it was at this point last year, before the global economy was blindsided by the pandemic.

The February gap between what America buys from abroad compared to what it sells abroad jumped by 4.8 percentabove the revised January deficit of US$67.8 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

The increase reflected a 2.6 percent decline in exports of goods and services to US$187.3 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis. That wiped out a 0.7 percent decline in imports, which ticked down from January’s record high of US$260.1 billion.

The February goods deficit of US$88 billion, up from US$85.2 billion in January, was also the highest on record. The US$5 billion drop in exports of goods was stoked by a US$2.5 billion dropoff in the capital goods category.

The February services surplus of US$16.9 billion was the lowest since January of 2012, tripped up by a decline in exports of travel services. The U.S. generally runs a big deficit in goods and a surplus in services such as travel and transport.

The year-to-date trade deficit after two months of 2021 is US$138.9 billion, more than 68 percent higher than the US$82.4 billion for January and February of 2020.