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June 18, 1987

US ELECTRONIC TRADE GAP NARROWS

By CBR Staff Writer

The American Electronics Association in Santa Clara, California is celebrating a significant improvement in the industry’s terms of trade in the first quarter of 1987 compared with the same period of 1986. The deficit with Japan dropped by nearly 12% to $4,600m – but the Association unhelpfully doesn’t give the actual figures for imports and exports. With the rest of the world as a whole, the US deficit fell more than 19%, coming down to $2.5m in the quarter. Giving the usual caveat about reading too much into one set of figures, Association senior vice president Ralph Thomson says Second quarter figures available later this summer will confirm if a significant trend reversing our trade deficits is underway. If the first quarter pace continues, the US-Japan deficit would finish 1987 at about $18,000m compared with $20,400m in 1986, and the the US-world trade deficit would fall to about $11,00m from $13,100m last year. The effect of the soaraway yen was of course particularly noticeable in the most price-sensitive sector of the market, consumer electronics, where the US deficit with Japan shrank to $1,500m from $2,100m. But Japan’s long-term strategy of becoming a major exporter of computers is still on track – the deficit in computers increased to $1,300m from $1,000m. On the other hand, computers and instruments are the only two classes of electronic goods where the US has a surplus with the rest of the world as a whole: the computer surplus was $700,000 in the first quarter, up from $600,000 in the same period of 1986; the surplus in instruments was flat at $500,000 in the two periods. US trade in communications equipment with the rest of the world was close to net neutral in the 1987 quarter – a deficit of less than $100,000, which compares with a deficit of $300,000 in the 1986 quarter. The US maintained an unchanged defifit of $900,000 in components with Japan, but its components trade with the world as a whole improved to a $900,000 deficit from a deficit of $1,100m in the 1986 period.

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