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U.S. Trade Gap Widens for Sixth Month Ahead of Trump Tariffs

Posted April 05, 2018

Under Economic Issues, International Trade Issues

(Katia Dmitrieva – Bloomberg)

The U.S. trade deficit widened by more than forecast to a fresh nine-year high in February amid broad-based demand for imports, ahead of Trump administration tariffs that have raised the specter of a trade war.

The gap increased 1.6 percent in February to $57.6 billion, compared with the median estimate of economists for $56.8 billion, Commerce Department data showed Thursday. It was the sixth straight month with a wider deficit, the longest streak since 2000. Imports and exports both registered gains of 1.7 percent, with the data showing a $1 billion jump in charges for imported intellectual property that probably reflect a temporary boost from rights fees to broadcast the Olympic Games.

While President Donald Trump has vowed to shrink the trade deficit, it may keep growing thanks to rising household spending, strong business investment and tax cuts that are boosting demand for imports. At the same time, his tariffs on some imported steel and aluminum, along with proposed taxes by U.S. and China on goods from each country, represent a wild card for the outlook and have sparked financial-market swings in recent weeks. Click here to read more.

Related: U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services – February 2018 (BEA)