"Exports increased $121.2 billion or 5.5 percent".
The deficit in December increased by 5.3% to 53.1 billion United States dollars.
These data are released as the Trump administration has made the reduction of the trade deficit one of its priorities. In the fourth quarter of 2017, a larger than expected trade deficit depressed economic growth by slightly more than a full percentage point, so that the economy grew at just a 2.6 percent rate.
US President Donald Trump's first year in office saw the US trade gap leap to its highest level in seven years due to record imports. The trade gap with China, a country Trump criticized repeatedly on the campaign trail for its unfair trade practices, surged to a record-breaking $375 billion.
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Official data showed the United States deficit in goods and services jumped to $53.1bn in December, an increase of $2.7bn from November, and markedly higher than economists´ consensus forecasts for a deficit of $52bn. "The first-year Trump jump in the USA trade deficit adds urgency to the administration actually securing a NAFTA replacement deal that ends NAFTA's job outsourcing incentives and implementing a new China trade policy". The huge deficit in the fourth quarter of 2017 prevented the USA from reaching the 3.0 percent economic growth in the third quarter, a feat last seen in 2005. Imports advanced 2.5 percent to $256.5 billion, boosted by record USA purchases of consumer goods, capital goods and food products.
Record high imports from China helped drive the deficit higher. Imports from China and Mexico hit record highs The year 2017 saw the US importing more foreign-made cars, computers, cell phones and other consumer goods, much of which were produced in China. "Looking ahead, we expect the trade deficit to widen further in 2018", said Gregory Daco, chief USA economist at Oxford Economics. While improving overseas growth and a weaker dollar bode well for exports, Trump's efforts to seek more favorable terms with USA trading partners remain a work in progress, and his tax-cut legislation may cause the deficit to widen further.
Trump has said he plans to take a more forceful stance to bring down America's trade deficit. Trade deficits subtract from gross domestic product.