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US trade deficit drops in June on record rise in exports

August 5, 2020 GMT
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FILE - In this May 11, 2020 file photo, a container ship is docked at Maher Terminals in Elizabeth, N.J. The U.S. trade deficit rose for the third straight month in May. Both exports and imports fell as the coronavirus outbreak continued to take a toll on world commerce. The Commerce Department said Thursday, July 2 that the gap between the United States buys and what it sells abroad rose 9.7% in May to $54.6 billion, highest since December 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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FILE - In this May 11, 2020 file photo, a container ship is docked at Maher Terminals in Elizabeth, N.J. The U.S. trade deficit rose for the third straight month in May. Both exports and imports fell as the coronavirus outbreak continued to take a toll on world commerce. The Commerce Department said Thursday, July 2 that the gap between the United States buys and what it sells abroad rose 9.7% in May to $54.6 billion, highest since December 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit fell in June for the first time since February as exports posted a record increase, rising twice as fast as imports.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the gap between the value of what the United States buys and what it sells abroad fell 7.5% to $50.7 billion in June from $54.8 billion in May. Exports shot up an unprecedented 9.4% to $158.3 billion. Imports rose 4.7% to $208.9 billion.

Global commerce has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. Compared to June 2019, total U.S. trade — exports plus imorts — plunged 21.9% in June to $367.2 billion. But two-way trade rebounded from May to June, rising 6.7% on a surge in both exports and imports of cars and auto parts.

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“The latest trade figures confirm that both exports and imports began rebounding in June, and we expect a continued recovery over the coming months as production catches up with the recovery in consumption,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China fell 4% to $26.7 billion in June.

In June, the United States ran a $72.2 billion deficit with the rest of the world in the trade goods such as aircraft and appliance. But it ran a $21.5 billion surplus in the trade of services such as banking and education.