US trade deficit continues to widen as import growth outpaces exports

Imports and Exports | 7 February 2018

The US trade deficit widened more than expected in December to its highest level since 2008, with imports growing faster than exports during the month.


The US saw record import figures for December 2017, meaning the country's trade deficit widened more than expected during the month.

Goods imports increased 2.9 per cent to a record $210.8 billion (€170.78 billion) in December, with imports of food, capital and consumer goods shown to be the highest on record.

Exports also rose by 2.5 percent to $137.5 billion in December, the highest level since October 2014, with overseas sales of capital goods proving particularly strong. However, this was not enough to prevent the country's trade deficit from widening.

During the month, the deficit increased by 5.3 percent to $53.1 billion, the highest level since October 2008. This was higher than the $52 billion figure forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

The trend is likely to prove politically sensitive given President Donald Trump's commitment to an "America First" trade policy, with a stated goal of shrinking the deficit.

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said: "Many American factory workers bought into the promise of the president's trade policy reforms, but they are still waiting for results."