Washington, 19 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- New figures show that the nations of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union continue to sell more goods to the United States. They exported more than $4 billion of goods in the first six months of this year, a 31 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
The U.S. Commerce Department, which released the figures yesterday, says that these countries reduced their purchases of American goods by 20 percent in the first half of 1996, dropping the total to just over $3.5 billion.
U.S. officials expressed concern today that the total U.S. trade deficit through the end of July had swelled to $11.7 billion, mostly because of a surge of American purchases of Japanese autos, Chinese toys and foreign oil.
It was the largest trade deficit for the United States in eight years.
The U.S. trade balance with Russia continues to swing more into Moscow's favor. According to the figures, Russia sold nearly $2 billion in goods to the United States in the first half of 1996, 25 percent more than it sold in the first half of 1995. Its imports from the U.S. were down 34 percent to just over $1.7 billion.
The other former Soviet republics increased their exports to the United States by 12.7 percent (to $826 million), but also raised their purchases from the United States by 6 percent (to $561 million).
The nations of Central and Eastern Europe as a group increased their exports to the United States by nearly 17 percent (to $1.2 billion) while imports of American goods dropped only slightly to $1.2 billion in the first six months of the year.