Executive Briefings

Trump Trade Friction Overlooks America's Surplus in Services

One thing that's often missed in President Donald Trump's complaints about the U.S. trade deficit is America's $248bn surplus in exports of services like education, banking and software.

Microsoft Corp., Goldman Sachs Group and FedEx Corp. are all exporters when they do business overseas. The money that more than 70 million foreign visitors spend in the U.S. each year also counts toward services exports. So do the tuition fees of over 1 million foreign students at U.S. colleges and schools, and the box-office returns for Hollywood blockbusters, when they're screened abroad in India, China and elsewhere.

While the services surplus is dwarfed by the goods deficit, it has doubled over the past decade and is an area where the U.S. could potentially keep making gains, given its highly skilled and educated workforce.

Trump has pledged to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S. by ditching what he sees as unfair trade deals, and by urging American companies to make more products at home.

One risk is that an "America First" policy on goods could undercut the growing appetite of other nations for U.S. services. Countries like China, Japan and Mexico, which are under the spotlight for their massive surpluses in goods sales to the U.S., also have a large services deficit with the world's biggest economy.

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Microsoft Corp., Goldman Sachs Group and FedEx Corp. are all exporters when they do business overseas. The money that more than 70 million foreign visitors spend in the U.S. each year also counts toward services exports. So do the tuition fees of over 1 million foreign students at U.S. colleges and schools, and the box-office returns for Hollywood blockbusters, when they're screened abroad in India, China and elsewhere.

While the services surplus is dwarfed by the goods deficit, it has doubled over the past decade and is an area where the U.S. could potentially keep making gains, given its highly skilled and educated workforce.

Trump has pledged to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S. by ditching what he sees as unfair trade deals, and by urging American companies to make more products at home.

One risk is that an "America First" policy on goods could undercut the growing appetite of other nations for U.S. services. Countries like China, Japan and Mexico, which are under the spotlight for their massive surpluses in goods sales to the U.S., also have a large services deficit with the world's biggest economy.

Read Full Article