The U.S. trade deficit with the rest of the world widened to $11.4 billion in February, the largest monthly report of red ink since last September, the Commerce Department said today.
Both imports and exports declined, but exports dropped faster, down 8% from January. Imports were down 1.3% for the month.
The monthly U.S. trade deficit with Japan worsened from $3.7 billion in January to $4.3 billion. That was partly accounted for by a nearly $500-million increase in imports of new cars from Japan.
Excluding sales of U.S. goods to Canada and Mexico, exports last year rose only 4% and have "gone nowhere" this year, department analyst David Lund said.
Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige said February's 8% drop in exports was the worst for any month since January, 1978, as U.S. exporters "continue to struggle with the handicaps imposed by the strong dollar, slower growth abroad and by foreign import barriers."