US Trade Deficit With China Grew in April Despite Narrowing Elsewhere

June 7, 2019 by Dan McCue

The United States’ trade deficit with China widened in April, despite Trump administration tariffs on thousands of Chinese goods, and even as the gap between the U.S. and other countries narrowed.

Since taking office in 2017, President Donald Trump has sought to subdue America’s persistent trade deficit, claiming it was caused by bad trade deals agreed to by the weak negotiators of past administrations.

Since then, he’s slapped tariffs on important steel and aluminum from a number of trading partners, including Canada, and engaged in a full-fledged trade war with China after slapping steep tariffs on a wide range of goods.

Despite all this, in April the U.S. trade deficit with China rose 29.7% to $26.9 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday.

While exports to China dropped 24.3%, imports climbed 11.6%, proving once again what economists have long maintained — Americans simply buy more than they produce, and imports are necessary to meet their needs.

Since the period covered in Friday’s report, Trump has more than doubled the tariffs he’d already imposed on $200 billion in Chinese goods, and he’s said he’s prepared to extend tariffs an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports.

On Monday, he is set to open a trade war on another front by imposing 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports, ratcheting them up to 25% on October 1 if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop the flow of Central American migrants to the U.S. border.

Of course, Friday’s report didn’t just focus on China. Overall, the Commerce Department said, the gap between the goods and services the U.S. buys and those it sells abroad fell 2.1% to $50.8 billion in April from March.

Exports fell 2.2% to $206.8 billion on a big decline in orders for civilian aircraft.

Imports dropped 2.2% to $257.6 billion with fewer purchases of semiconductors and a variety of chemicals.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services is currently running at about $205.4 billion, up 2% from $201.3 billion in January-April 2018.

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