January 19, 1999
Over the past year, import prices fell 6.1 percent, the largest annual decline recorded for the import price index since publication of the series began in 1983. Much of the decline was attributed to falling oil prices: petroleum prices fell 40.0 percent over the past year, bringing the oil import price index level to its lowest level since 1983.
Even among non-petroleum goods, the rate of price decline was slightly higher in 1998 than in 1997. For the year, this index fell 3.1 percent, compared with a 2.8 percent decrease in 1997.
Over the past 12 months, import prices from Latin America were down 9.9 percent, while prices of imports from the Asian Newly Industrialized Countries fell 8.2 percent. Canadian import prices declined 3.5 percent in 1998. Despite gains in the last two months of the year, prices from Japan fell 3.0 percent over the past year. Prices for imports from the European Union were down 0.7 percent.
Estimates of import prices and other international price indexes are produced by the International Price Index program. Additional information may be found in news release USDL-99-13, "U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes—December 1998."Â