US trade deficit rises to 12-year high USD679 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States (US) trade deficit rose 17.7 per cent last year to USD679 billion, highest since 2008, as the coronavirus disrupted global commerce and confounded US former President Donald Trump’s attempts to rebalance America’s trade with the rest of the world.

The gap between the value of the goods and services the US sells abroad and what it buys climbed from USD577 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Exports skidded 15.7 per cent to USD2.1 trillion, and imports fell 9.5 per cent to USD2.8 trillion.

As president, Trump sought to narrow the gap by imposing taxes on imported goods on a scale unseen since the trade wars of the 1930s.

The deficit narrowed slightly in 2019 but then ballooned last year as coronavirus restrictions hammered US exports of services such as tourism and education. Services exports dropped 20.4 per cent last year.

Still, the US ran a USD237 billion surplus last year in services. But that was overwhelmed by a USD916 billion deficit in trade in goods such as aircraft and auto parts.

In December, the trade deficit dropped to USD66.6 billion, down 3.5 per cent from November. Exports rose 3.4 per cent, and imports increased 1.5 per cent.