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US trade deficit rises 9.7% in May to $54.6 billion

he Commerce Department said that the gap between the United States buys and what it sells abroad rose 9.7% in May to $54.6 billion.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit rose for the third straight month in May. Both exports and imports fell as the coronavirus outbreak continued to take a toll on world commerce.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the gap between the goods and services the United States buys and what it sells abroad rose 9.7% in May to $54.6 billion, highest since December 2018. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated world trade. U.S. exports fell 4.4% in May to $144.5 billion, lowest since November 2009. Imports slid 0.9% to $199.1 billion, lowest since July 2010.

The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China rose 7.3% to $27.9 billion in May.

So far this year, the overall U.S. deficit in the trade of goods and services has fallen 9.1% to $223.4 billion from $245.7 billion in January-May 2019.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this May 11, 2020 file photo, a container ship is docked at Maher Terminals in Elizabeth, N.J.

World trade has plummeted in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. In May, overall U.S. trade — exports plus imports — came in at $343.6 billion, down 28% from May 2019. Exports of crude oil and petroleum products dropped sharply in May as did auto imports.

In May, the United States ran a $76.1 billion deficit in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances. But it ran a $21.5 billion surplus, smallest since February 2016, in the trade of services such as banking and education.

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