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U.S. trade gap, volatile markets a challenge for Trump

07 February 2018

Imports increased 2.5 percent in December to a record $256.5 billion, while exports edged up 1.8 percent to $203.4 billion, also a new record.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit rising to $52.0 billion in December after a previously reported $50.5 billion in the prior month. The administration is now renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, and Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the pact.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the trade gap in goods and services hit $566 billion previous year, the highest deficit since $708.7 billion in 2008.

So naturally, in his first year of office, the US trade deficit hit its highest level in nine years. Trump has promised to reduce the deficits with China and Mexico, and the administration is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and is considering imposing trade sanctions on China.

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The deficit grew especially strongly in the final month of the year, adding 5.3 percent to reach $53.1 billion in December, the highest since October 2008.

For the time being though, it should not provide reason to worry because growing imports went along with rising USA exports past year.

The commodity trade with China increased by 8.1% past year to a record 375.2 billion United States dollars.

Notably the US deficit in goods soared previous year to a record-high $375.2 billion with China, a nation that Trump has both demonized and praised on trade during his tenure.

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Imports from Mexico also hit a new record high. Last year, the U.S. imported more foreign cars, computers, mobile phones and other consumer goods, most of which were produced in China.

The numbers come after Trump claimed in his State of the Union address that the US had "finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our nation's wealth".

Trade deficits are caused when a country's imports exceed its exports.

America's shortfall in trade with the rest of the world widened at the end of 2017 as imports continued to run ahead of exports, boosted by strong domestic demand.

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Trade looked set to subtract more than expected from fourth-quarter annualized gross domestic product, he said in an interview, making the Bank of Canada's forecast of 2.5 percent growth "much more hard to attain".

U.S. trade gap, volatile markets a challenge for Trump