US trade deficit rises to highest level since 2008

Source: The Hill | December 6, 2018 | Sylvan Lane

The U.S. trade deficit rose close to $1 billion in October, reaching the highest level in a decade as imports outpaced declining exports, according to federal data released Thursday

The gap in value between what the U.S. sells to and buys from foreign nations rose to $55.5 billion October, the fifth consecutive monthly increase in the country’s trade deficit in goods and services, according to the Commerce Department.

October’s trade deficit was the biggest since the gap reached $60.1 billion in October 2008. The deficit, a crucial target of President Trump’s protectionist trade agenda, has risen 11.4 percent from its level from January to October 2017.

President Trump has sought massive reductions to the trade deficit, which he uses as a barometer for the fairness of the country’s trade terms with other nations. Economists consider the gap important, but insufficient to paint the full picture of U.S. trade relations.

While the trade deficit reflects the U.S’s heavy reliance on cheaper foreign imports, it fails to consider other trade venues where the country makes a surplus.

Trump has attempted to narrow the deficit through tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods,a along with imported steel and aluminum. China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico have responded with import taxes on U.S. agricultural goods, plunging dozens of family farms into severe financial danger.

Despite Trump’s efforts, U.S. imports increased 0.2 percent from September, rising $600 million to $266.5 billion in October. Exports fell $300 million from September to $211 billion, a 0.1-percent drop.

U.S. food and agricultural exports fell by $700 million in October, with soybean shipments—a major target of retaliatory tariffs against the U.S.—dropped $800 million, a 46.8-percent decline.

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