US trade gap rises to $44.4 billlion as virus slams commerce

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FILE – In this Nov. 4, 2019 file photo cargo cranes are used to take containers off of a Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation boat at the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash. The U.S. trade deficit tumbled in February 2020 to the lowest level since 2016 as exports fell and imports fell more. The politically sensitive gap in the trade of goods with China narrowed in February when the world’s No. 2 economy was locked down to combat the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit rose in March as the coronavirus outbreak battered America’s trade with the world.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the gap between what the United States sells and what it buys abroad widened 11.6% in March to $44.4 billion from $39.8 billion in February. U.S. exports fell 9.6% to $187.7 billion on plunging orders for cars, auto parts and industrial machines. Imports fell 6.2% to $232.2 billion.

Total trade — exports plus imports — came in at $419.9 billion in March, down 7.8% from February and 11.4% from March 2019.

The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China fell 21.3% to $15.5 billion in March as exports rose slightly and imports plummeted.

The coronavirus and the lockdowns and travel restrictions meant to contain it have hammered the world economy and paralyzed global trade.

In March, the United States ran a $21.2 billion surplus in the trade of services such as tourism and banking. But it registered a $65.6 billion deficit in the trade of goods such as cars and appliances.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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