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BEA Works with Partners to Understand Differences in Bilateral Trade Statistics

Trade statistics produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis provide policymakers and other stakeholders with critical information for understanding the role of the United States in the global economy. As the size and complexity of international transactions have increased, BEA is working on a number of fronts to make its trade statistics even better.

An article in the February issue of the Survey of Current Business describes recent BEA efforts to understand bilateral asymmetries, or differences, in statistics that measure the value of trade in services produced by the United States and another trading partner country.  The article describes why such differences exist and how they are measured. It also highlights BEA’s work with statistical agencies in other countries to analyze the source of those differences.

The largest asymmetries between BEA’s trade in services statistics and those of another country are with the United Kingdom, the United States’ top trading partner for services. The Survey of Current Business article details the results of a recent analysis by the BEA and the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics. The analysis showed that each country consistently reported higher exports than the partner country’s reported imports. As a result, both countries are reporting a services trade surplus with each other.

This initial analysis focused on the asymmetries caused by definitional and methodological differences in the U.S. and U.K. statistics. BEA and the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics were able to quantify some of these differences. The article breaks down the aggregate asymmetries by type of service.

BEA will continue to study bilateral trade asymmetries with the United Kingdom and other trading partners and will provide periodic updates on the findings. These efforts will, in turn, help data users to better understand how to interpret differences in the bilateral trade statistics reported by BEA and its partner countries.

January 2018 Trade Gap is $56.6 Billion

The U.S. monthly international trade deficit increased in January 2018 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit increased from $53.9 billion in December (revised) to $56.6 billion in January, as exports decreased more than imports. The previously published December deficit was $53.1 billion. The goods deficit increased $2.8 billion in January to $76.5 billion. The services surplus increased $0.1 billion in January to $19.9 billion.

Balance on Goods Monthly March7

Exports
Exports of goods and services decreased $2.7 billion, or 1.3 percent, in January to $200.9 billion. Exports of goods decreased $3.0 billion and exports of services increased $0.3 billion.
• The decrease in exports of goods mostly reflected decreases in capital goods ($2.6 billion), in industrial supplies and materials ($1.3 billion), and in other goods ($1.0 billion). An increase in consumer goods ($1.2 billion) partly offset the decreases.
• The largest increase in exports of services was in charges for the use of intellectual property ($0.1 billion). The only decrease was in maintenance and repair services ($0.1 billion).

Imports
Imports of goods and services decreased less than $0.1 billion, or less than 0.1 percent, in January to $257.5 billion. Imports of goods decreased $0.2 billion and imports of services increased $0.2 billion.
• The decrease in imports of goods mostly reflected decreases in capital goods ($1.3 billion) and in consumer goods ($0.9 billion). An increase in industrial supplies and materials ($2.0 billion) partly offset the decreases.
• The largest increase in imports of services was in other business services ($0.2 billion), which includes research and development services; professional and management services; and technical, trade-related, and other services. The largest decrease was in travel (for all purposes including education) ($0.2 billion).

For more information, read the full report.

2017 Trade Gap is $568.4 Billion

The U.S. international trade deficit increased in 2017 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit increased from $504.8 billion in 2016 to $568.4 billion in 2017, as imports increased more than exports. As a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product, the goods and services deficit was 2.9 percent in 2017, up from 2.7 percent in 2016. The goods deficit increased from $752.5 billion in 2016 to $811.2 billion in 2017, and the services surplus decreased from $247.7 billion in 2016 to $242.8 billion in 2017.

Balance on Goods and Service March3

Exports
Exports of goods and services increased $123.5 billion, or 5.6 percent, in 2017 to $2,331.6 billion. Exports of goods increased $95.0 billion and exports of services increased $28.5 billion.
• The largest increases in exports of goods were in industrial supplies and materials ($66.4 billion) and in capital goods ($13.2 billion).
• The largest increases in exports of services were in other business services ($12.2 billion), which includes research and development services; professional and management services; and technical, trade-related, and other services, in financial services ($8.2 billion), and in charges for the use of intellectual property ($3.5 billion).

Imports
Imports of goods and services increased $187.2 billion, or 6.9 percent, in 2017 to $2,900.0 billion.  Imports of goods increased $153.7 billion and imports of services increased $33.5 billion.
• The largest increases in imports of goods were in industrial supplies and materials ($64.3 billion), in capital goods ($50.7 billion), and in consumer goods ($18.6 billion).
• The largest increases in imports of services were in travel (for all purposes including education) ($11.6 billion), in other business services ($5.9 billion), and in transport ($4.4 billion).

For more information, read the full report.


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