WASHINGTON—The rubber product trade deficit fell 5.1 percent during the first quarter of 2015 despite an increase in the shortfall during March.
The deficit for the first three months of the year stood at $2.68 billion, compared with $2.83 billion for the same period of 2014, according to data from the Department of Commerce. In March, the shortfall climbed 9.3 percent to $1.08 billion.
There was less trade activity in the rubber sector during the first quarter, as exports fell 2 percent to $2.48 billion and imports slid 3.7 percent to $5.17 billion.
Among individual rubber product categories in the first quarter, the tire trade deficit declined 11.4 percent to $1.93 billion, with passenger down 7.8 percent and truck/bus tires 22.8 percent lower.
The hose and tubing deficit rose 9.5 percent to $82.7 million; the belting shortfall climbed 7.6 percent to $47.1 million; the deficit for miscellaneous hard rubber goods rose 7.5 percent to $262.7 million; and the trade shortfall for rubber and plastic coated garments jumped 20.7 percent to $368.5 million.
On the supply side, the trade surplus surged 83.1 percent to $328.7 million for the year's first quarter. Trade activity appeared to be impacted by lower material costs for both natural and synthetic rubber. The value of imports of NR for the three-month period fell 37.7 percent to $367.2 million, while exports of SR were off 16 percent to $698.8 million.