Merchandise exports climbed 1.1% on an annual basis in December, on the heels of November’s 4.4% increase. December’s figure marked the slowest expansion since August 2020. Meanwhile, merchandise imports expanded 6.9% in annual terms in December (November: +4.8% yoy).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 6.3 billion surplus in December (November 2022: USD 4.7 billion surplus; December 2021: USD 7.5 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend deteriorated, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 58.2 billion surplus in December, compared to the USD 59.3 billion surplus in November.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists project merchandise exports to fall 3.1% and imports to remain stable in 2023, with the trade surplus at USD 33.6 billion. In 2024, they see exports rising 0.5% and imports rising 1.8%, with a trade surplus of USD 30.0 billion.