Import Prices Fall 0.2% in December on Lower Fuel Prices; Export Prices Decrease 1.8%

Imports

The price index for U.S. imports declined 0.2% in December, the first monthly decrease since the index fell 0.2 percent in August 2021. Despite the December drop, U.S. import prices increased 10.4% over the past year. The advance in 2021 was the largest calendar-year rise since import prices increased 10.6% in 2007. (See table 1.)

Fuel Imports: Prices for import fuel decreased 6.5% in December, the first monthly decline since August 2021 and the largest drop since a 30.9% decrease in April 2020. In December, a 6.0% fall in petroleum prices and a 13.7% decline in natural gas prices drove the drop in import fuel prices.

Despite the December decrease, import fuel prices rose 62.7% in 2021, the largest calendar-year advance since the index increased 114.7% in 1999. The price indexes for petroleum and natural gas also rose over the past year, advancing 62.0% and 86.9%, respectively.

All Imports Excluding Fuel: Nonfuel import prices increased 0.5% for the third consecutive month in December. Prices for nonfuel imports have not recorded a monthly decline since November 2020. Higher prices for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials; consumer goods; foods, feeds, and beverages; automotive vehicles; and capital goods all contributed to the rise in nonfuel import prices. The price index for nonfuel imports advanced 6.4% for the year ended in December, the largest calendar-year increase since the series started in 2002.

Foods, Feeds, and Beverages: Prices for foods, feeds, and beverages rose 0.5% in December following a 0.2% drop the previous month. Higher fruit prices in December led the increase.

Nonfuel Industrial Supplies and Materials: The price index for nonfuel industrial supplies and materials advanced 1.7% in December, after rising 1.9% in November. The December increase was driven by higher prices for selected building materials and chemicals.

Finished Goods: Prices for each of the major finished goods categories advanced in December. Consumer goods prices rose 0.5%, the largest monthly advance since February 2018. Prices for automotive vehicles increased 0.2% in December, and capital goods prices ticked up 0.1%.

Table A. Percent change in Import and Export Price Indexes, selected categories:

Month IMPORTS EXPORTS
All
imports
Fuel
imports
Nonfuel
imports
All
exports
Agri-
cultural
exports
Non-
agricultural
exports

2020

December

1.0 7.3 0.4 1.2 1.0 1.3

2021

January

1.5 9.0 0.9 2.7 6.0 2.3

February

1.2 10.9 0.4 1.6 2.7 1.5

March

1.5 8.0 0.9 2.5 2.4 2.5

April

0.9 1.9 0.8 1.2 0.7 1.2

May

1.3 5.2 0.9 2.3 6.1 1.8

June

1.1 4.9 0.7 1.2 1.4 1.1

July

0.3 2.9 0.0 1.1 -1.7 1.3

August

-0.2 -2.2 0.0 0.2 0.9 0.1

September

0.4 3.6 0.1 0.3 -1.5 0.5

October

1.5 11.1 0.5 (R)1.9 (R)1.2 (R)2.0

November

0.7 (R)2.3 0.5 (R)0.8 (R)1.1 (R)0.6

December

-0.2 -6.5 0.5 -1.8 0.8 -2.1

Dec. 2019 to 2020

-0.3 -20.1 1.9 0.4 5.4 -0.1

Dec. 2020 to 2021

10.4 62.7 6.4 14.7 21.7 13.8