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US authorities to unveil March trade figures


US authorities to unveil March trade figures

us trade
Photo: Mario Tama/Getty

Ahead of virtual trade talks between UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis is today set to release data on the US trade deficit for March.

February saw the trade deficit narrow from $45.5 billion the month prior to $39.9 billion, the lowest since September 2016, due to a global slowdown in trade resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Imports fell 2.5% due to a decline in capital goods—particularly computers, oil and consumer goods. Exports declined about 0.4%, mainly in consumer goods and pharmaceutical products.

March data is expected to show the first uptick in the trade deficit since December 2019, to $44.2 billion, as countries across the globe and several US states begin to ease pandemic-related shutdowns and reopen their economies.

Regardless of the expected trade deficit increase, today’s numbers will likely embolden Washington negotiators to push for a reduction in export restrictions with the UK. Lighthizer is expected to demand a relaxation on some regulations in agribusiness, such as allowing imports of chlorinated chickens. While UK negotiators are hoping to boost trade in digital services, expect US resistance given the extent to which a decline in computer technology imports has already contributed to a fall in the deficit—a deficit reduction is a key trade aim of the Trump administration.

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