Friday, December 13, 2019

US Trade Deficit Drops as Crude Oil Exports Up and Imports Down

Record Total of Goods Shipped to China
Shipping News Feature

US – WORLDWIDE – The Baltic and International Maritime Council, now known simply as BIMCO, has pointed out this week that October was the first month in which the US exported more crude oil by sea than it imported, with exports reaching a new record of 12.95 million tonnes. The figure, taken from a US Census Bureau report, is not the only interesting fact revealed however.

Whilst oil exports rose, imports on the other hand, have fallen since the start of the year and totalled 11.1 million tonnes in October this year, compared to 16.9 million tonnes in October 2018. While growth in exports has primarily been driven by the US Gulf Coast ports, with Houston responsible for 65% of these, it is also here where the biggest falls in imports have occurred. During the first ten months of the year imports through Houston are down 25.4% (to 26.7 million tonnes), New Orleans are down 48.9% (to 16.1 million tonnes) and Port Arthur are down by 38.7% (to 14.2 million tonnes).

The US is one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world. Its exports have risen quickly since the US congress lifted a ban on US crude oil exports in December 2018. However, when considering total imports, rather than just seaborne, the US remains a net importer of crude oil. Especially non-seaborne imports from Canada skew the balance.

Overall the US international trade deficit shrank during the period as exports increased and imports decreased. Exports increased 3.2% from September 2010 to $158.7 billion, and imports decreased 0.8% to $197.4 billion.

The increase in exports was driven by a $2.6 billion increase in exports of industrial supplies and materials and record-high $9.9 billion in exports of foods, feeds, and beverages. Soybean exports were up $0.6 billion compared to September, and exports of fuel oil and natural gas both increased $0.5 billion in October.

Exports to China reached a record-high $9.3 billion in October, a $2.1 billion increase over September. The record-high exports combined with a slight drop in imports ($0.2 billion), led the trade deficit with China to decrease $2.3 billion in October to $25.5 billion. Exports to Mexico of $15.4 billion in October were also a record.

Through October, the 2010 trade deficit of $420.6 billion is 39.1% larger than the 2009 deficit through October ($302.5 billion). Exports have increased 17.0% to $1.51 trillion and imports have increased 21.2% to $1.93 trillion over the same time period.