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U.S. Trade Deficit At Three-Year Low As Oil Imports Dip

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Rising petroleum exports and diminishing crude and oil product imports helped the U.S. post its lowest trade deficit in three years in November, government data showed on Tuesday.

The U.S. monthly international trade deficit declined to US$43.1 billion in November, from US$46.9 billion in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau.  

Total U.S. exports of goods and services increased by 0.7 percent to US$208.6 billion in November, while imports of goods and services decreased by 1.0 percent to US$251.7 billion.  

Crude oil imports dropped by US$132 million and other petroleum product imports fell by US$410 million in November from October, according to the detailed imports data.

U.S. imports of crude oil in November—adjusted for seasonality and inflation—dropped to their lowest level since records began in 1994, according to AFP.

In November last year, America’s total petroleum trade surplus increased to US$800 million to hit the highest petroleum surplus ever recorded, according to MarketWatch estimates of the data.

The narrower trade deficit in November reflects reduced overall U.S. imports amid the trade war in China, but it also reflects the growing significance of exports of crude oil and petroleum products and the diminishing oil imports in U.S. trade.

According to EIA data, the United States exported more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported in September 2019—the first month in which America was a net petroleum exporter since monthly records began in 1973. In September 2019, the U.S. exported 89,000 bpd more crude oil and petroleum products than it imported, due to surging U.S. crude oil production and the lifting of export restrictions in 2015, and to continuously growing oil products output and exports, the EIA said.

Just a decade ago, the U.S. was importing 10 million bpd more crude oil and petroleum products than it was exporting.  

Total U.S. crude oil and petroleum net exports are expected to average 570,000 bpd in 2020 compared with average net imports of 490,000 bpd in 2019, according to EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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