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Iron and Steel Trade Deficit Grows in April

CHICAGO — Metals trade values were mixed in April, with iron and steel mill products posting a wider deficit compared with the previous month while copper’s surplus dipped.

The value of iron and steel mill product exports declined 2.9 percent from March as imports grew 1.7 percent, lifting the product trade deficit 8.3 percent to $768 million from $709 million, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

For the first four months of the year, the value of U.S. iron and steel mill product exports rose 21.5 percent but imports jumped 42.6 percent, pushing the year-to-date deficit to nearly $2.17 billion from $1.02 billion in the first four months of last year.

Meanwhile, copper maintained a trade surplus in April, although it slipped 5.7 percent to $33 million from $35 million in March. However, copper’s year-to-date trade surplus of $315 million more than doubled from $153 million a year earlier.

Aluminum and alumina export values in April fell 2.9 percent from the previous month to $824 million, but year-to-date exports jumped 39.1 percent to $3.13 billion.

Import values of bauxite and aluminum fell 9.7 percent to $818 million in April, while January-to-April import values gained 2.2 percent to $3.5 billion.

Nickel import values totaled $379 million in April, down 7.6 percent from March, but year-to-date imports grew 48.8 percent to $1.39 billion.

Zinc import values in April slipped 1.1 percent to $175 million, although the January-to-April total rose 3 percent to $661 million.

Tin import values dropped 47.1 percent to $81 million in April, but the metal’s year-to-date import value more than doubled to $432 million.

Overall, U.S. exports of goods and services were valued at $175.6 billion in April while imports reached $219.2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $43.7 billion, down 6.6 percent from $46.8 billion in March. The U.S. trade deficit with China jumped 19.3 percent to $21.6 billion.

"The rise in our trade deficit with China in April is yet another reminder of just how far we have to go to level the playing field for American workers and businesses. Externally, the only thing holding back a boom in American manufacturing is China’s persistent mercantilism, including its currency manipulation and industrial subsidies," Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), said.

"China makes promises to reform, but the data tells the truth: China’s cheating continues to destroy good American jobs. If Germany can balance its trade account with China, so can we. (It) should be high on the agenda of this Congress and administration," he said.

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