U.S. market in Q1-2020: Agribusiness and Healthcare products relatively sheltered from the contraction in demand

In spite of persistent declines for capital goods and a sharp slowdown for Fashion and Home products, demand for Food&Beverage and Pharmaceuticals continued to grow

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Slowdown Food&Beverage Health products Industrial equipment United States of America Uncertainty Import Global economic trends

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In Q1-2020 US imports confirmed an overall downturn ...

US trade data for the first quarter of 2020 (elaborations by StudiaBo using US companies' foreign trade declarations collected by U.S. Census Bureau)1 mark a new downward trend in US imports (-4.9% in USD values compared to the corresponding quarter of 2019), for the third quarter in a row. The prolonged weakness of US imports is largely due to factors that predate the spread of the Covid19 pandemic and affects almost all sectors.


... affecting above all investment goods'
and intermediates' industries ...

The cyclical picture of US imports confirms, in particular, a widespread deterioration in demand for capital goods, with still a quite negative trend for Machinery (-13.4% year-over-year in USD), ICT and Service Equipment (-13%), Industrial Plants (-10.6%), Cars, transport and agriculture equipment (-9%), Industrial Tools and Equipment (-5.9%).
As regards intermediate goods, several industries are showing negative trends in US imports, mainly for Metal Intermediate Goods (-13.9% year-over-year in USD), Fabrics and Leather (-9.8%) Ceramics Glass and Refractories (-9%), Fine Chemicals and Specialties (-6.7%), Pulp and Paper and Forest Products (-6.2%).

.. but also involving Fashion's and Home's supply chains.

Consumer goods are not exempt from the recessionary phase, as well: in particular, there are significant decreases in trends for US imports of Furniture, Appliances and home decor (-13.7% in US Dollars compared to Q1-2019) and Fashion Products (-13.2%).

In this context, the spread of the Sars-CoV2 virus adds to the uncertainty factors weighing on growth, threatening levels of economic activity and adding to previous signs of weakness.

.. with the relevant exceptions
of the Agribusiness and Healthcare industries.

On the other hand, however, quite positive performances came from the agribusiness and healthcare supply chains: US imports of Unpackaged Food (+4.8% year-over-year in US Dollars) and, even more, Packaged Food and Beverage (+4.1%) and Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products (+15.6%).

After a Q4-2019 contraction in dollar terms, the first quarter of the year marked a restart for the US Food&Beverage industry, recovering the accelerated growth rates of the first part of last year.
Particularly noteworthy are the significant contributions to the growth of US imports from the following sectors: Alcoholic beverages (+6.4% year-over-year in USD), Fish [fresh, frozen, dried and smoked] (+4.1%) and Meat and fish, processed and packaged (+3.3%).

In Q1-2020 also US Healthcare imports showed an acceleration, with - once again - a double-digit growth rate. In particular, in Q1-2020 from Drugs, medicaments (+22.2% y-o-y in USD, with a trend increase of $6.3 billion) and Medical and dental instruments and equipment (+8.4%) came the major contributions.


1) Data and graphics mentioned in this article are accessible, only for registered users, through the US Trade Datamart in the ExportPlanning's Analytics Tool.