The annual U.S trade deficit reached a record high in 2018, despite President Trump’s efforts to reduce foreign purchases and steer consumers toward American-made products.
The difference between the value of goods and services imported and exported by the U.S. rose $68.8 billion from 2017 to $621 billion in 2018, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. The monthly trade deficit for December 2018 rose to $59.8 billion, the widest gap for any month since October 2008.
Trump has made reducing the U.S. trade deficit one of his signature issues. He has focused especially China, which he says is a result of unfair trade deals that hinder American manufacturing and exports. To push back, Trump has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars in foreign goods, including steel, aluminum and Chinese exports.
But most economists counter that the metric does not reflect the full impact of global trade policies. Many say the deficit is driven by a strong U.S. dollar and economy that enables Americans to buy more foreign goods while making U.S. exports more expensive to international buyers.
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