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The East: Regional Exports To U.S. Rise In First Half 1997

Washington, 22 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - The nations of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are selling more goods to the United States, raising their exports in the first six months of this year to over $3.8 billion, nearly 28 percent higher than during the same period last year.

But the latest U.S. Commerce Department statistics show that the biggest jump in sales to America came from the nations of Central and Eastern Europe, (excluding Hungary and Poland), which totaled $633 million for the first six months, a nearly 46 percent improvement over 1996.

Poland, which recorded a lackluster increase of 3.9 percent in its exports to the U.S. (hitting $319 million), paled in comparison to Hungary's 67.8 percent increase in exports to the U.S. in the first six months of 1997. Hungary's sales totaled $475 million.

Russia and the other nations of the former Soviet Union recorded exports to the U.S. of over $2.45 billion in the first six months, a strong 21.9 percent increase over 1996. Russia, as usual, accounted for the bulk of those exports -- $1.93 billion, an increase of 25.8 percent over the first half of last year.

But the other former Soviet nations recorded a respectable 9.2 percent increase in sales to the U.S., totaling $521 million in the period January through June.

The U.S. statistics, issued Wednesday, cover only the region as a whole and in its segments. Individual national figures are released for just Hungary, Poland and Russia.

Total U.S. trade with the entire region rose over 20 percent in the first six months of 1997, hitting $7.86 billion, with the trade basically balanced between exports and imports. Russia managed to sell $380 million more in goods to the U.S. than it bought from America in the period -- giving it a trade surplus balance -- and Hungary had a large $227 million surplus in its balance of trade with the U.S.

Total U.S. trade with the world for the first half of 1997 totaled over $757 billion, an increase of just over nine percent compared to 1996. The U.S. had a trade balance deficit for the period -- it imported over $76.8 billion more than it sold in the first six months of the year.

U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley said trade with the European Union remains weak because of the slow economic growth there, and that America continues to buy far more from China and Japan than it sells there.

Trade with China is particularly "problematic," said Daley, because there is "no reason why our products cannot have a higher presence in the Chinese market as they do in ours." He said he'll address the issue when he's in Beijing in October.

China sold the U.S. $26.9 billion worth of goods in the first half of this year, over $21 billion more than it bought from the U.S.