The United States’ foreign trade deficit in goods and services rose by 9.7% in May compared to April, to $54.6 billion, with a smaller decline in exports and imports due to the economic paralysis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data released Thursday by the Commerce Department, exports fell by 4.4% to $144.5 billion, while imports fell by 0.9% to $199.1 billion.

“The decline in exports and imports that continued in May was, in part, due to the impact of COVID-19, as businesses were operating at limited capacity or ceased operations altogether, and international traveler movement was restricted,” the report said.

The trade deficit with China, which is highly sensitive politically due to tensions between the two countries, increased by $1.9 billion in April from the previous month, to $27.9 billion.

In the first five months of the year, the US trade deficit fell by 9.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

The latest economic indicators point to a deep crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

The third and last estimate of the evolution of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of the year left a fall of 5% per year, the largest since 2008.

The Federal Reserve (Fed) has warned of “considerable risks” given “extraordinary uncertainty” and has forecast a 6.5% collapse in economic activity by the end of the year with the unemployment rate rising above 9%.

To counteract this situation, Congress has approved a massive $2.2 trillion stimulus plan and is discussing an additional one, while the Fed has cut interest rates to almost 0 % and has added several successive rounds of massive liquidity injections to the markets.

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