Trump's favourite trade scorecard worsened in May as exports hit lowest level since 2009

Reuters
  • The US goods and services deficit – touted by President Trump as the top trade scorecard – widened to $US54.6 billion in May from $US49.8 billion, the Commerce Department announced Thursday.
  • Exports plummeted to $US144.5 billion from $US151.1 billion to hit its lowest level since November 2009. Imports shrank $US1.8 billion to $US199.1 billion.
  • The US deficit with China swelled $US1.9 billion to $US27.9 billion, driven by a sharp increase in import activity.
  • “We anticipate that trade activity will stage a slow recovery in the months ahead as global lockdowns ease,” Oxford Economics said, adding that new virus hotspots in the US pose significant downside risks.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

US trade activity plummeted in May as coronavirus lockdowns continued to freeze shipping activity and consumer demand.

The country’s goods and services deficit widened to $US54.6 billion in May from a revised $US49.8 billion, the Commerce Department announced Thursday. The shortfall – often touted by President Donald Trump as the top trade-war scorecard – now sits at its highest since December 2018.

US exports slid to $US144.5 billion in May from $US151.1 billion to hit its lowest level since November 2009. Imports fell to $US199.1 billion from $US200.9 billion, the department said.


Read more:
The No. 1-ranked tech analyst on Wall Street says these 6 stocks have potential for huge gains as they transform the sector

The US deficit with China swelled $US1.9 billion to $US27.9 billion as heightened import activity overshadowed a slight increase in exports.

Exports are set to rebound through the second half of the year but sit 18% below pre-pandemic highs by 2021, Oxford Economics said in a note. Imports will similarly remain below early 2020 levels and trade volumes will fall at record rates before the year is out, the firm projected.

“We anticipate that trade activity will stage a slow recovery in the months ahead as global lockdowns ease,” Oxford Economics said. “Yet with activity still globally depressed and the US health crisis not under control, downside risks are significant.”

US trade collapsed after the coronavirus turned global in February. The pandemic severely disrupted supply chains around the world and stifled consumer spending. While economic data has suggested a V-shaped US economic recovery is possible, soaring COVID-19 case counts across the nation threaten to revive strict quarantine measures and lengthen a deep recession.

Rising tensions between the US and China stand to exacerbate trade damage. President Trump has repeatedly blamed China for spreading the coronavirus. The Asian nation’s controversial law enforcement practices in Hong Kong recently ratcheted up concerns of retaliatory measures from the US.


Read more:
A 22-year market vet explains why stocks are headed for a ‘massive reset’ as the economy struggles to recover from COVID-19 – and outlines why that will put mega-cap tech companies in serious danger

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.