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US trade gap in 2017 widens to 9-year high despite Trump's tough talk


DESPITE US President Donald Trump's rhetoric, the nation's trade deficit has widened 12.1 per cent to US$566 billion in 2017, its highest level since 2008, according to the most recent data from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

In the last month of 2017, the goods and services deficit rose 5.4 percent to $53.1 billion compared with the previous month. December exports stood at $203.4 billion, up $3.5 billion from November, but that growth was more than offset by a $6.2 billion increase in imports to $256.5 billion for the month, American Shipper reported.

For the full year, total US exports grew 5.5 per cent to $2.33 trillion, while imports jumped 6.7 per cent to a record $2.9 trillion, both of which were the largest increases since 2011, according to an analysis from Bloomberg Markets.

Prior to his election, President Donald Trump pledged to eliminate the nation's trade deficit within two years as a means of increasing American manufacturing, improving the economy and reducing outsourcing of jobs to countries with lower wage standards.

"We want to eliminate the trade deficit within a year or two," White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said one month before the November 2016 election. "That's very doable with good deals."

Just over a year into his presidency, however, the Trump administration appears to be backing away from that two-year timeline for eliminating the trade deficit.

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