Trade Deficit Shrank By 45% in 2009 | Courthouse News Service
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Trade Deficit Shrank By 45% in 2009

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. trade deficit shrank 45 percent last year, falling from $696 billion in 2008 to $380 billion in 2009, after imports decreased faster than exports, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced Wednesday. But monthly data show the deficit has grown more recently.

The 2008 deficit made up nearly 5 percent of the U.S. economy while the 2009 deficit made up less than 3 percent.

Despite the smaller gap, the United States continued to import more than it exported in 2009, with $1.9 trillion in imports compared to $1.5 trillion in exports. The shrinking deficit was driven by a $580 billion drop in imports, partially offset by a $273 billion drop in exports.

Exports and imports were down in many of the same areas: travel and transportation, cars, engines, food, drinks and industrial materials.

"We can be encouraged by U.S. exports of goods and services increasing in December for an eighth consecutive month," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in responding to the news. "However, it is critical we redouble our efforts to increase our competitiveness."

American exports support nearly 10 million American jobs, but exports as a percentage of the American economy are still well below the rates of nearly all major economic competitors.

Facing continued pressure to boost employment, President Obama has called for a doubling of American exports over the next five years to spur economic and job growth.

The report comes as the bureau announced an opposite trend for December, which saw a $4 billion increase in the monthly deficit, hitting $40 billion after imports grew nearly twice as fast as exports.

In December, U.S. exports increased by $4 billion, but imports grew nearly twice as fast, by $8 billion. During that time, the United States exported $143 billion worth of goods and services, but imported a larger $183 billion worth.

The United States posted an $11.7 billion surplus in exported services in December and a goods deficit of $52 billion.

Looking back at the annual trend, however, the new numbers represent a monthly deficit that's $1.7 billion lower than last December's deficit, spurred by a $10 billion increase in exports, offset only partially by a smaller $8 billion increase in imports over the past year.

The United States increased its export of cars, engines and industrial supplies, but increased its import of the same, in addition to food and drinks.

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