United States trade deficits hit record high following Trump tariff wars

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'The trade deficit exploded a year ago despite the Trump administration efforts to make America great again, and the trend is unlikely to get any better in 2019, ' said Chris Rupkey chief economist at MUFG in NY.

Data from the Commerce Department showed the deficit in 2018 soared to 621 billion dollars.

While Trump often blames poor trade agreements for the trade deficit, that may not be the whole story. That reflected a deterioration of more than US$100 billion from the figure that Trump inherited from President Barack Obama. Since then, the two countries have exchanged several rounds of tit-for-tat trade tariffs. At this point, he's failing.

The US trade deficit jumped by almost 19% in December, pushing the trade imbalance for all of 2018 to widen to a decade-long high of 621 billion US dollars.

The deficit with the European Union, also in a trade standoff with Washington, also rose to a record $169.3 billion, while the gap with Mexico hit a high of $81.5 billion.

But America's appetite for imports appears to have increased after the tariffs that Trump imposed previous year on foreign steel, aluminum and Chinese products.

Trump has used tariffs or import taxes more aggressively than any American president since the 1930s. "And when we borrow to finance tax cuts, like we did with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we make these imbalances worse".

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"We do have concerns about certain aspects of the trade policy pursued by the current USA administration", Malmstrom said in a statement last week before the meeting, according to CNBC. China, the world's second-largest economy, has been slowing.

The relative strength of the USA economy means that it consumes more and imports more goods even as consumers and companies in China and Europe and the economies exposed to them consume less and import less. Computer imports also increased $0.7 billion in December. "Would we like that if other countries all of a sudden just unilaterally put major tariffs on us?"

"China's concessions probably won't be very big because a lot of their demands are what we already plan to reform", former finance minister Lou Jiwei said in Beijing on Wednesday, calling some USA demands for change 'unreasonable'. Americans are importing far more from overseas than they are exporting-imports grew 7.5% while exports increased only 6.3%. That, of course, is President Trump's aim.

While there have been particular winners and losers within individual economies from free trade and globalisation, overall, both developing and developed economies have benefited from free trade.

Trump hit roughly half of Chinese imports with taxes past year, a move created to kickstart trade negotiations with the goal of increasing exports to that country and stopping the forced turnover of US technology and theft of intellectual property. A reduced deficit with China would be offset by increased deficits elsewhere. "You can't tariff it away", said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official who works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Inside the White House, key economic advisers including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow are eager for a quick resolution to the trade conflict, while trade hawks such as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has taken a tougher line with China.

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