US imports are at a five-year low, according to data released today by the US Department of Commerce. But while trade with the vast majority of countries has plunged since March, US imports from China are surging.
What happened? The value of US imports fell to $164 billion in May, the lowest monthly figure in more than five years. Yet imports from China, the US’s largest source of imports for over a decade, actually rose from a 10-year low of $20.7 billion in March to $36.6 billion in May.
Why it’s important: More US imports from China are likely a result of servicing pent-up demand from the first quarter of 2020 when supply chain disruptions stopped many American companies from purchasing imports from outside the country. The US’s trade surplus with China—imports minus exports—jumped back up to $27.9 billion in May, from just $12 billion in March. That won’t make US President Donald Trump happy: His trade policies with China are aimed at reducing that surplus.
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