U.S. trade gap rises to $49.4 billion in April

Business

Gantry cranes stand idle at APM Terminals in Elizabeth, N.J., Monday, May 11, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns and travel restrictions meant to contain it have hammered the world economy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit hit the highest level in eight months in April. Exports and imports both posted record monthly drops as the coronavirus pandemic smothered America’s commerce with other countries.

The gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys abroad jumped to $49.4 billion in April, up 16,7% from $42.3 billion in March and highest since last August, the Commerce Department said Thursday. April exports fell 20.5% to $151.3 billion, and imports dropped 13.7% to $200.7 billion. April’s exports were the lowest in exactly 10 years; imports were lowest since July 2010.

Total trade — exports plus imports — dropped 16.7% in April from March and 24.8% from April 2019.

In much of the world, the pandemic and the lockdowns meant to contain it have brought economic activity to a near-standstill.

The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 53% to $26 billion in April; goods exports to China rose 29%, but imports rose more — 45% — as Chinese factories ramped up production after a draconian lockdown.

In April. the United States ran a $71.8 billion deficit in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances. It ran a $22.4 billion surplus in the trade of services such as banking and education.

Through April, the U.S. overall deficit in trade of goods and services this year is $168.5 billion, down 13.4% from January-April 2019. Exports are down 9.5% so far this year, and imports have fallen 10.2%.

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