For much of the year, however, import prices have fallen. The price increase for imports in August was the first upswing in prices after four months of declines.
Import prices were flat in January and February and up 1.4 percent in March. August is only the second month of the year prices have risen compared to the previous month.
On a 12-month basis, import prices show a steady pattern starting with a 12.9 percent annual gain in August 2011.
Gains diminished each month without a break in the pattern until May 2012, at which point price changes were in the negative. By July 2012, import prices were 3.2 percent lower than they were in July 2011.
In August, however, the pattern was broken as the annual price change stood at minus 2.2 percent, the first time in 13 months the annual price shift was higher than the previous month.
Among imports, fuel prices rose in August after falling for four consecutive months.
Import prices for petroleum rose 4.1 percent, while import prices for natural gas rose 6.8 percent, the report said.
Excluding fuel, import prices fell 0.2 percent after dropping 0.4 percent in July.
Export prices also rose in August, gaining 0.9 percent after rising 0.4 percent in July, the department said.
Prices for agricultural exports rose 5.1 percent in August, following a 6.3 percent gain in July.
Corn prices provided most of the push with prices up 11.1 percent. The price of wheat for export rose 9 percent, while soybean prices for export rose 5.6 percent in August.
Excluding agriculture, export prices rose 0.4 percent in August after rising 0.3 percent in July.