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Rubber trade deficit eclipses $9 billion through 3Q of 2014

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WASHINGTON—The U.S. rubber product trade deficit averaged more than $1 billion a month for the first three quarters of 2014, with imports more than doubling exports.

The trade shortfall for the period totaled $9.2 billion, a 5.9 percent increase from a year earlier, according to data collected by the Department of Commerce. Exports gained 2.5 percent to $8.18 billion, while imports climbed 4.3 percent to $17.4 billion.

For tires and related products, the deficit through three quarters of last year climbed 4.4 percent to $6.83 billion. Exports dropped 1.4 percent while imports rose 2 percent to $11.2 billion.

The shortfall for passenger tires inched up just 0.1 percent to $4.1 billion, while the deficit for truck and bus tires grew 6.1 percent to $1.39 billion.

Among other rubber product categories, the belting deficit jumped 14.1 percent to $144.5 million. Exports were stagnant but imports increased 3.9 percent. The deficit for miscellaneous hard rubber goods rose 1.2 percent to $732.1 million. Exports grew 10.2 percent and imports 7.7 percent.

The shortfall for hose and tubing increased 49.8 percent to $285 million through three quarters. Exports climbed 9.5 percent and imports 17.6 percent.

On the supply side, the surplus for the first nine months of last year rose 39.9 percent to $585.6 million, with exports up 1.2 percent and imports down 5 percent.