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China dominates U.S. non-oil trade deficit in 2009

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July 23, 2009 | International Picture

China dominates U.S. non-oil trade deficit in 2009

by Robert E. Scott

The large U.S. trade deficit in goods peaked in 2008, but has declined sharply thus far in 2009 as the global recession significantly reduced demand for U.S. exports and imports alike. But one constant remains: China’s rising share of the non-oil goods trade deficit, which recently peaked at 83% of the total U.S. non-oil goods trade deficit (see Chart). This deficit is dominated by the U.S. trade deficit in manufactured goods. In short, aside from oil imports, the U.S. trade deficit is dominated by our import of Chinese manufactured goods.

[figure:China's  growing share of U.S. trade deficit, 2000 - May 2009 (non-oil goods)]

Beginning in August 2008, monthly U.S. non-oil exports fell 25% ($27 billion), and imports fell 33% ($47 billion), so the monthly trade deficit declined 53% ($20 billion). China’s trade with the United States was the great exception: both imports and exports from China fell at a slower rate, so the monthly non-oil trade deficit with China fell much less (29% or $7 billion). As a result, China’s share of this deficit has surged from 69% in 2008 to 83% through May 2009.

China could do much to reduce this imbalance by revaluing its highly undervalued currency, giving up energy subsidies for exports, and forgoing the dumping of exports in the U.S. markets. China’s huge stimulus program has kept its economy growing at an 8% rate this year, and is able to consume many more U.S. exports.


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