The deficit in international trade in goods and services increased slightly by 1.5% in March, to 50,000 million dollars, despite registering the lowest level with China in three years.
According to the report of the Department of Commerce released today, imports rose by 1.1%, to 262,000 million dollars; while exports rose slightly less, by 1%, to 212,000 million dollars.
Imports were driven by the rise in the energy bill and automobiles; and the increase in exports was based on the rise in soybean sales.
On the other hand, the cumulative of the first three months of 2019 showed a decrease of the negative commercial balance of 3.7%, with respect to the same period of 2018.
With the European Union (EU), the negative balance increased by 3,400 million dollars, to 15,800 million.
The deficit with China, which is politically sensitive for the US government, fell to 28.3 billion dollars in March, the lowest level in three years.
President Donald Trump has launched an aggressive protectionist agenda that has included the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, and the imposition of tariffs on China, as well as the threat of new trade sanctions against China. European Union.
China and the EU have responded with reciprocal measures against US products.
Just today, the chief negotiators of the US and China are expected to hold a new round of talks in Washington to reach a trade agreement after Trump threatened at the beginning of the week to impose additional tariffs on hundreds of Chinese imports if a pact was not reached. at midnight from Thursday to Friday.
Liu He, the Chinese vice premier, will meet with the chief US negotiator, the Foreign Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, as well as the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin in the federal capital with the pressure of the countdown imposed by Trump himself. .
This Wednesday, Trump said at a rally in Florida that Beijing “had broken the agreement” and said he had no problem in increasing the levies on Chinese products.
“For ten months China has been paying tariffs to the US of 25% over 50,000 million dollars in technological goods, and 10% to 200,000 million dollars in other goods (…). to 25% on Friday, “Trump said last Sunday.
These tensions have caused uneasiness in the financial markets, which have registered notable declines all week waiting to see if this new tariff increase to Chinese imports materializes.
Doubts continue on Thursday on Wall Street, which opened at a loss and where the Industrial Dow Jones, its main indicator, fell 1.05% minutes after the start of the session, while the selective S & P 500 was down 1.13 %.
Given that these are the two largest world economies, the trade dispute is feared to have global repercussions.
In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) presented its latest forecasts of global growth, which fell by two tenths of the figure calculated in January, to 3.3% as a result of the effects on global economic activity of these commercial tensions. .
For now, however, the national economy maintains its good health with a growth rate in the first quarter of the year of 3.2%, the best since 2015; and the unemployment rate remains at levels close to full employment, at 3.6%, a figure not seen in almost half a century.