The U.S. trade deficit widened to a record in August as American consumers continued to show a strong appetite for imported goods such as pharmaceutical products, toys and clothing.
The Commerce Department on Tuesday said the trade gap in goods and services expanded to $73.3 billion in August from $70.3 billion in July as the Delta variant of Covid-19 and supply constraints weighed on global trade.
The August deficit was slightly larger than the prior record of $73.2 billion in June. Imports rose 1.4% in August to $287 billion, also a record high, reflecting higher shipments of consumer goods, as well as industrial supplies by business customers.
As many economies around the world continued to emerge from pandemic-related restrictions, exports also rose to $213.7 billion, up 0.5% from July.
Economists say the pace of the increase in imports is likely to slow in the coming months as U.S. consumer demand cools down.
“With most other economies still behind the U.S. in their recovery from the pandemic, and domestic consumption growth slowing, we still think goods exports will start to catch up with imports soon,” Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics, a research firm, wrote in a note.
Though shipments into and out of the U.S. grew overall in August, issues with global-supply chains continued. As a severe shortage of semiconductors forced auto makers to reduce their production, exports of vehicles and parts fell 8%, while imports also shrank 5.2%.
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