WASHINGTON (Jan. 30)—The U.S. rubber product trade deficit in September decreased nearly 5 percent, marking the 12th consecutive month the figure has dropped from the year-earlier period. The deficit fell to $234.2 million, down from $246.2 million posted in September 2000. Exports sank 9.9 percent to $387.4 million during the period, while imports declined 8.1 percent to $621.5 million, according to U.S. Commerce Department figures. For the first nine months of 2001, the rubber product deficit slumped 13.5 percent to $2.11 billion, down from $2.44 billion in 2000. Exports slowed 4.9 percent to $3.72 billion and imports descended 8.2 percent to $5.84 billion.