Throughout his campaign and time in office, Trump has argued that he would wipe out deficits created by America's signing of bad trade deals, which he says have hurt workers and businesses to the benefit of the nation's top trading partners.
Trade deficit in goods with China, Mexico and Canada, which account for more than half of total US goods imports and exports, all widened in 2017, compared with the prior year, said the Commerce Department.
December was also the highest month on record for USA goods exports to China at $13.7 billion and to Japan, at $6.4 billion. Last year, the USA imported more foreign cars, computers, mobile phones and other consumer goods, most of which were produced in China.
The US posted all-time record goods exports to 29 countries, with $243 billion exported to Mexico, $130 billion to China and $56.3 billion to the United Kingdom.
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Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill are spot on when they deem the trade deal a success, particularly for U.S. farmers. What progress is being made? The U.S., Mexico, and Canada will continue negotiations later this month.
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For the full year, total USA exports rose 5.5 percent to $2.33 trillion, while imports climbed 6.7 percent to a record $2.9 trillion. The US households prosper and tend to buy more imported goods. Exports of energy products, which had been hit by pipeline disruptions in November, expanded by 6.2 percent to hit the highest level in more than three years. The last time the USA reported a surplus was in 1975.
The U.S. economy has run trade deficits for decades, during both economic expansions and recessions.
The December goods-and-services gap was wider than the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg for $52.1 billion. Imports outweighed exports $2.9 trillion to $2.3 trillion.
Exports rose 1.8 percent to $203.4 billion in December from the previous month, led by record shipments of capital goods and gains in industrial supplies and materials.
The jump in the so-called real trade deficit at the end of the year puts trade on course to be a drag on gross domestic product in the first quarter.