United States commerce department says trade deficit hit 10-year high in 2018

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In addition, Washington has sought increased Chinese purchases of United States goods, including farm and energy commodities and manufactured products, to reduce a USA trade deficit with China that it estimates at more than US$417 billion for 2018.

In Trump's first two years in office, the overall deficit in traded goods and services has surged by almost one-fourth - and it's in large part due to the president's own policies.

President Donald Trump is pursuing a protectionist trade agenda to shield USA manufacturing from what he says is unfair foreign competition. He said trade talks were "moving along nicely". "But there is also a strong unanimity that we should have a positive agenda with the U.S". "The administration's fiscal policies have helped to boost the trade deficit".

It has been evident for months that the President was failing to shrink a trade gap that he calls "unsustainable" and that he says represents a massive transfer of wealth from Americans to foreigners. Former San Antonio mayor Jullian Castro, whose state is the fifth most reliant on trade knows the risk of trade wars.

The rift between the merchandise U.S. companies sell to China and Chinese imports expanded to a record $419bn while the aggregate deficit in merchandize with all countries hopped to $891bn.

In 2009, amid the Great Recession, the trade deficit fell 40 per cent from the peak three years earlier to about US$506 billion.

Trump's supporters insist he's tackling that via his trade negotiations with China and other U.S. trading partners.

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Trump has pledged that once his brilliantly negotiated deals go through - the new North American Free Trade Agreement gets ratified by Congress, China fully capitulates to all his wildest demands, the European Union and Japan suddenly decide to buy more of our cars, etc. - our balance of trade will turn around. Economists argue that doing so is a sign of "goods fetishism", which is one fetish there's incontrovertible evidence - i.e., his many, many comments and tweets on the issue - Mr. Trump clearly does indulge in. Yet numerous president's critics do not blame him for this, saying some fluctuations in the trade deficit are largely beyond his control.

The overall trade deficit, which includes services, surged 12.5 percent to US$621 billion in 2018, the largest since 2008. Other Gallup polling earlier in February found that Americans' perceptions of North Korea as the greatest enemy of the US had plummeted in the past year. A few months back, he imposed a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion and said that number would rise to 25 percent on January 1st if China did not agree to US trade demands.

Businesses likely stocked up on imports in anticipation of further duties on Chinese goods, which ironically contributed to the deterioration in the trade deficit previous year, Reuters noted.

US exports fell for a third straight month, mainly on account of the strong dollar that made USA products more expensive overseas. "A competitive dollar is the most important tool we have to spur economic growth and job creation in the United States economy", said Michael Stumo, chief executive of the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

Trump has always been convinced that the United States gets a raw deal from its trade ties.

In contrast to Gallup's finding of a 43 percent job approval rating for President Trump, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 48 percent of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump's job performance.

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