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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, March 08, 2018 1:00 am

Trade deficit at $76.5 billion, highest since '08

PAUL WISEMAN | Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit rose in January to the highest level since October 2008, defying President Donald Trump's efforts to bring more balance to America's trade with the rest of the world.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the trade deficit rose to $56.6 billion in January, up 5 percent from $53.9 billion in December and the highest since October 2008's $60.2 billion trade gap. The trade deficit – the gap between what America sells and what it buys abroad – has risen five straight months.

Trump rattled financial markets last week by promising to slap big tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. He blames persistent deficits on abusive practices by U.S. trading partners and on bad trade deals that put American companies at a disadvantage or encourage them to move factories overseas.

Exports fell 1.3 percent to $200.9 billion in January, and imports were flat at $257.5 billion.

The United States ran a $76.5 billion deficit in the trade of goods, which was partially offset by a $19.9 billion surplus in services such as education and banking.

The $36 billion January deficit with China was the highest since September 2015. The trade gap with Mexico narrowed to $4.1 billion from $5.4 billion in December.