The country’s deficit in international trade in goods and services declined by 8.2% in November to lie at 43.1 billion dollars, the lowest level since 2016, thanks to an increase in exports and a decline in imports.
This is the second consecutive monthly contraction and the lowest level since the arrival of President Donald Trump at the White House in 2017.
In November, exports rose by 0.7% to $208.6 billion, while imports fell by 1% to $251.7 billion, according to figures released by the Commerce Department.
The trade deficit is the smallest monthly recorded in the country since October 2016.
The total accumulated deficit for the first 11 months of 2019 is 0.7% lower than the imbalance recorded in 2018 in the same months.
If this pace continues, 2019 could be the first year that the US records a reduction in the negative trade balance since 2013.
For its part, the deficit in trade in goods with China, which is very sensitive politically, fell by 15.6%; and in the first eleven months it stood at 319.8 billion, 61.3 billion less than in the same period in 2018.
“This is on track to become a positive factor for GDP growth in the last quarter of the year, but for the wrong reasons,” said Jeffrey Kleintop, head of global investment strategy at Charles Schwab Bank.
“A drop in imports in almost every major category is what we see in this report, which includes capital goods. It does not bode well for business investment,” he added in a note to clients.
The figure comes shortly before the signing ceremony of the first phase of a trade agreement with China next week, President Trump has announced, to halt the escalation in the trade war already dragging on for more than 18 months between Washington and Beijing.
Although it was initially planned that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping would participate in the event, the leader of the Chinese delegation will eventually be Vice Premier Liu He.
Despite the president’s promises to rebalance the deficit which, in his opinion, responds to the unfair treatment given to it by its commercial partners, the truth is that it has not been reduced as promised and closed 2018 in the highest register since 2008.
In fact, economists believe that the trade balance is not a significant indicator of a country’s economic health.
In the United States, as the world’s largest economy, deficits tend to widen historically during good times as consumers’ appetite for imports increases.
The dispute between the world’s two largest economies has consequences around the world, and both have seen their growth rates slow in recent months.
The national economy slowed in the third quarter, according to the second official estimate, to an annual rate of 2.1% compared to 3.1% previously recorded at the beginning of the year.
For its part, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 6% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, the worst quarterly figure since March 1992, when the data began to be officially recorded in the Asian giant.
In its latest global growth forecasts, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its global expansion projections to 3.2% this year in October, a tenth of a point lower than in April, as a result of “trade tensions” between Washington and Beijing.
The Fund will present its new global projections, with the update for China and the US, at the Global Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) at the end of January.