Trade deficit hits highest level since 2008

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The U.S. trade deficit surged to its highest level since 2008 during President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Nunes gave Trump ‘secretly altered’ version of memo Davis: ‘Deep state’ existed in ’16 – but it elected Trump Former Trump legal spokesman to testify to Mueller about undisclosed call: report MORE ‘s first year in office despite his vow to lower the gap and crack down on unfair competition.

The nation’s trade gap in goods and services jumped 12.1 percent to $566 billion in 2017, up $61.2 billion from 2016, the highest level since the deficit hit $708.7 billion in 2008, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Exports increased $121.2 billion or 5.5 percent while imports rose $182.5 billion or 6.7 percent, according to the report.

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

Trade gaps increased with Mexico, Canada while the two nations and the United States continue working to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

For December, the trade gap increased to 53.1 billion, up from $50.4 billion in November, which was the highest level since October 2008.

Throughout his campaign and time in office, Trump has argued that he would wipe out deficits created by what says is America’s inking of bad trade deals. He has vowed to remake the nation’s trade policy to shift the bigger benefits into the favor of the United States.

Recently, Trump levied steep tariffs on imported solar panel technology and washing machines, which immediately boosted prices for U.S. consumers.

The president has to decided in the next couple of months whether he will act on the steel and aluminum case reports on his desk that argue for higher tariffs based on national security concerns, a move the U.S. has rarely used in the past because of risks that U.S. exports could pay the price in retaliation.

Despite his firery rhetoric against trade, the Trump administration made few inroads on trade policy outside of slapping higher tariffs on what they consider offending products from China to Canada.

Imports surged to $2.9 trillion, easily eclipsing $2.3 trillion in U.S. exports.