The gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys abroad jumped to $49.4 billion in April, up 16,7% from $42.3 billion in March and highest since last August, the Commerce Department said Thursday. April exports fell 20.5% to $151.3 billion, and imports dropped 13.7% to $200.7 billion. April's exports were the lowest in exactly 10 years; imports were lowest since July 2010.
Total trade — exports plus imports — dropped 16.7% in April from March and 24.8% from April 2019. In much of the world, the pandemic and the lockdowns meant to contain it have brought economic activity to a near-standstill.
The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 53% to $26 billion in April; goods exports to China rose 29%, but imports rose more — 45% — as Chinese factories ramped up production after a draconian lockdown.
In April. the United States ran a $71.8 billion deficit in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances. It ran a $22.4 billion surplus in the trade of services such as banking and education. Through April, the U.S. overall deficit in trade of goods and services this year is $168.5 billion, down 13.4% from January-April 2019. Exports are down 9.5% so far this year, and imports have fallen 10.2%.