The US trade gap surged to its highest level in almost a decade during President Donald Trump's first year in office - more unwelcome economic news after Wall Street suffered historic losses, and setting up a test of confidence for his administration. "The first-year Trump jump in the US 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". Last year, the United States imported more foreign cars, computers, mobile phones and other consumer goods, most of which were produced in China.
One of the central themes of Trump's presidential campaign was a pledge to level the playing field for American workers. While improving overseas growth and a weaker dollar bode well for exports, Trump's efforts to seek more favorable terms with US trading partners remain a work in progress, and his tax-cut legislation may cause the deficit to widen further. The huge deficit in the fourth quarter of 2017 prevented the US from reaching the 3.0 percent economic growth in the third quarter, a feat last seen in 2005.
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. Both showed the biggest gains since 2011. The economists interviewed expected a low value of 52.2 billion United States dollars.
Within the former, imports of goods jumped by $6.0bn to reach $210.8bn, led by increases of $1.8bn in purchases of pharmaceutical preparations from overseas, of $1.7bn in those of cell phones and other household goods, of $1.1bn in passenger cars and of $0.8bn in capital goods. Imports outweighed exports $2.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion.
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"It was a flat month and not a great handover into 2018".
Despite his firery rhetoric against trade, the Trump administration made few inroads on trade policy outside of slapping higher tariffs on what they consider offending products from China to Canada.