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Rubber product deficit jumps again in 2013

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WASHINGTON—The rubber product trade deficit ended 2013 on a down note, ensuring that the sector's trade shortfall would once again post an annual gain.

For December, the deficit jumped 19.9 percent to $1.02 billion, according to data from the Department of Commerce. Exports for the month plunged 18 percent to $723.3 million, with imports dropping a more modest 2.2 percent to $1.74 billion.

That left the rubber product trade shortfall for all of 2013 up 3.1 percent to $11.5 billion. Imports again more than doubled exports for the year, with imports up 0.8 percent to $22.1 billion and exports down 1.6 percent to $10.6 billion.

The tires and related products sector pretty much reflected the overall numbers, with the 2013 deficit up 3.2 percent to $8.62 billion and the monthly shortfall up 18.8 percent to nearly $736 million.

Among other rubber product categories in 2013, the belting deficit dropped 6.3 percent to $188.1 million; the hose and tubing trade shortfall rose 17.1 percent to $284.7 million; the deficit for miscellaneous hard rubber goods dipped 1.3 percent to $952.2 million; and the rubber and plastics coated garments deficit increased 4.1 percent to $1.53 billion.

On the supply side, the surplus for 2013 rose more than tenfold to $627.9 million.