By Harriet Torry
March 07, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - WASHINGTON—The U.S. posted its widest monthly trade gap since 2008 in December and a record annual deficit in goods as sturdy economic growth underpinned higher spending by American consumers and businesses.
The international trade deficit in goods and services rose 19% in December from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $59.8 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a $57.3 billion gap.
The shortfall grew last year despite President Trump’s aim to reduce it, based on his belief that trade deficits are necessarily bad for the economy.
Over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump imposed tariffs on a wide range of goods that the U.S. imports from other countries, particularly China, in hopes of giving American producers a competitive edge. He publicly lambasted companies that outsourced jobs, renegotiated pacts with major U.S. trade partners like Mexico, Canada and South Korea, and rankled longtime European allies by deeming their steel and aluminum exports a threat to national security.
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Still, the trade gap swelled 12% from 2017 to $621.04 billion. Excluding services that the U.S. sells to foreigners, such as tourism, intellectual property and banking, the deficit grew 10% to $891.25 billion, the largest level on record.
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