Economic Indicators | Trade and Globalization

U.S. Goods Trade Deficits with China Increased by $3.3 Billion in 2013, and by $3.5 Billion with Countries in the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership

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*Some numbers have been corrected.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the annual U.S. trade deficit in goods and services declined from $534.7 billion in 2012 to $471.5 billion in 2013, an improvement of $63.1 billion (11.8 percent). This reflected a $24.8 billion (12.0 percent) improvement in the services trade surplus and a $38.3 billion (5.2 percent) improvement in the goods trade deficit.

However, the overall improvement in the goods trade balance masked important structural shifts in U.S. goods trade. Although the U.S. goods trade deficit in petroleum goods declined by $59.0 billion (20.2 percent), the U.S. trade deficit in non-petroleum goods[1] increased by $20.7 billion (4.6 percent).  Growing trade deficits in non-petroleum goods have been a primary driver in the displacement of U.S. manufacturing jobs over the past decade. Trade deficits in non-petroleum goods, which have increased over the past four years, remain a substantial threat to the recovery of U.S. manufacturing employment.

Growing trade deficits in non-oil goods reduce demand for U.S.-made goods, especially manufactured products, which make up more than 85  percent of U.S. goods exports.  China and the members of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)[2] were important contributors to the growing U.S. trade deficit in non-petroleum goods in 2013.  The goods trade deficit with China increased by $3.3 billion (1.1 percent) in 2013, and the U.S. trade deficit[3] with the 11 TPP members increased by an estimated $3.5 billion (1.4 percent).

U.S. trade and investment deals such as NAFTA, KORUS and China’s membership in the WTO have resulted in growing U.S. trade deficits and job losses and downward pressure on U.S. wages.   This is not the time for massive trade deals that cost jobs and depress wages.  The United States should stop negotiating new trade deals such as the TPP, and fix the ones we have.


[1] Includes miscellaneous adjustments

[2] Members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

[3] Transshipments are excluded from this estimate.

See more work by Robert E. Scott