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Trade Deficit in January Rises to $7.3 Billion : Economy: U.S. officials cite struggling economies in Japan and much of Europe.

March 19, 1993|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The nation's merchandise trade deficit widened to $7.3 billion in January in the face of a weakening demand for U.S. exports abroad, the government reported Thursday. Economists said the report reflected in part the flat economies of many of America's overseas trading partners.

"Our trade deficit deteriorated in January because Europe and Japan are in the midst of a winter of severe economic discontent," said John M. Albertine, head of a Washington economic forecasting firm.

The deficit widened to $7.3 billion as the year got underway, a 6% increase over the $6.89-billion trade gap in December, the Commerce Department reported. The increase nearly wiped out a 6.2% improvement a month earlier.

Exports, which reached a record $39.67 billion in December, fell back 6.7% in January, to $37.01 billion, the lowest level since $35.8 billion last August. Two-thirds of the decline was in aircraft and automobiles.

Imports also fell, largely because of a drop in U.S. purchases of foreign cars, other consumer items and capital goods.

But the 4.8% decline, to $44.31 billion, was overshadowed by the decrease in shipments of U.S. goods overseas. Imports had also hit an all-time high in December, $46.56 billion.

Analysts said the deficit, the difference between exports and imports, will worsen this year because the struggling economies in Japan and much of Europe erode buying power and thus curb purchases of U.S. goods.

Merchandise Trade Deficit

Billions of dollars, seasonally adjusted; imported figures exclude shipping and insurance.

Jan., '93: 7.30 Dec., '92: 6.89 Jan., '92: 5.95

Source: Commerce Department

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