USA trade gap, volatile markets a challenge for Trump

Reuters

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in December, hitting its highest level since 2008 as robust domestic demand pushed imports to a record high.

The U.S. trade deficit reached the highest level in nine years in 2017 despite President Donald Trump's emphasis on balancing foreign trade, according to The Associated Press.

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

US merchandise exports to China and Mexico in 2017 were the highest on record - and so were imports.

One of the central themes of Trump's presidential campaign was a pledge to level the playing field for American workers. America's merchandise-trade gap with China, the world's second-biggest economy, widened 8.1 percent in 2017 to a record $375.2 billion.

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 USA has rarely used in the past because of risks that US exports could pay the price in retaliation. The US households prosper and tend to buy more imported goods.

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The shortfall - the 11th in a row - exceeded the C$2.20 billion deficit predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll and was the seventh largest on record.

The December goods-and-services gap was wider than the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg for $52.1 billion.

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

Trade looked set to subtract more than expected from fourth-quarter annualized gross domestic product, he said in an interview, making the Bank of Canada's forecast of 2.5 percent growth "much more hard to attain".

"It was a flat month and not a great handover into 2018".

Exports rose 1.8 percent sequentially, stimulated by food and beverage products, industrial supplies and capital goods.

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