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U.S. Travel Association

U.S. travel analysis on March 2011 trade deficit report

David Huether, senior vice president of research at the U.S. Travel Association, provides analysis on today’s Commerce Department report on the March 2011 trade deficit:

"The Commerce Department reported today that the U.S. trade deficit rose by $2.8 billion in March to a level of $48.2 billion, as a $7.7 billion rise in exports was eclipsed by a $10.4 billion increase in imports. More than half of the import increase was in petroleum products due, in part, to a surge in oil prices at the end of the first quarter. After stalling in February, exports of travel and passenger fares rebounded in March, increasing 1.1 percent to $11.8 billion. As a result, travel exports rose at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the first quarter of this year. While this increase is welcome, it is just half of the 11.7 percent pace attained last year, which is a worrisome sign.

"At $134.4 billion in 2010, travel was the single largest industry export last year, topping domestic exports of major manufacturing industries such as machinery, aircraft and computers and electronics. The slowdown that has occurred so far this year is a cause for concern for the U.S. economic recovery.

"Thankfully, there are steps that the U.S. government can take to improve the competitiveness of U.S. travel exports.

"On May 12, the U.S. Travel Association will present the first comprehensive review of the negative impact that inefficient and unpredictable U.S. visitor visa and entry processes have on U.S. jobs, economic growth and exports. The report documents that travel is America’s largest industry export sector and the easiest export sector to expand, since the barriers to increased international visitation to the United States are largely self-imposed. The report shows how common-sense reforms that are relatively easy to implement could create 1.3 million more U.S. jobs and add $859 billion to the U.S. economy by 2020 – all with little or no cost to taxpayers."

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