Published: Thu, May 04, 2017
Business | By Jorge Reeves

U.S. trade deficit edges lower in March

U.S. trade deficit edges lower in March

NAFTA which was signed in 1994 by the United States, Canada and Mexico removed most trade and tariff barriers between the neighbors, but Trump and other critics have blamed it for deep US job cuts.

The U.S. trade deficit was narrower than forecast in March as record exports of services partly cushioned a drop in merchandise shipments, Commerce Department data showed Thursday.

Monthly oil imports rose to their highest level in almost four years at 260 million barrels, helping push the petroleum deficit to US$7.9 billion, its highest level since July 2015.

Exports to countries other than the United States, meanwhile, rose 15.3 percent, bolstered by sales to China, India and South Korea.

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Imports had risen in recent months on higher oil prices. A boost in natural gas exports attributable to cold temperatures in the northeastern United States and increased coal exports to Asia were both factors.

Other reports suggest USA firms are benefiting from stronger economic growth around the globe, including in Europe and Asia.

Imports fell 0.7 percent $234.7 billion as imports of crude oil and other petroleum products slid.

Imports increased 1.7 per cent to $47.1 billion, mainly due to unwrought gold.

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Imports from Mexico hit $28.1 billion, their highest on record, pushing the deficit with the southern neighbor to its highest level in almost 10 years.

President Donald Trump told Reuters that he was "psyched" to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, but changed his mind after their leaders asked for it to be renegotiated instead.

The rise in exports was widespread, led by energy, consumer goods and metal and non-metallic mineral products which were all up by 7% during the month.

But a four-year record for Japanese imports, valued at US$13.3 billion, saw the United States deficit with that country hit its highest level since April 2008 at US$7.6 billion.

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