U.S. Trade Gap Widens in April Masking Steep Declines in Both Exports and Imports

The Trump administration’s moves to curb Chinese trade practices appear to be slowly paying off. U.S. trade figures released May 27 show a much smaller trade deficit in April as the trade war between the U.S. and China has dragged its scales. The trade deficit narrowed to $62.9 billion, the smallest monthly deficit in two years. A decade ago, U.S. deficits had swelled in the $1 trillion range.

The trade deficit for goods with China plunged to $6.7 billion in April. That’s the lowest monthly deficit since November 2016, when then-President-elect Donald Trump called for an end to “unfair” trade policies with China. The U.S. is required to fully balance its trade, including exporting goods and importing services. The United States reported the first-ever trade deficit with China in 1994. Trump has focused on curbing the “unfair” trade practices of China and other nations.

The trade deficit for goods with Canada shrank in April to $7.8 billion. The deficit with the European Union shrank slightly to $9.5 billion.

The deficit with Mexico dropped sharply in April to $4.1 billion, the smallest deficit since December 2017. That marked a reversal from previous months, when the gap with Mexico widened. The political rivalry between Mexico and the United States has intensified since Trump took office in January 2017.

The U.S. reported a deficit of $28.1 billion in services, such as music and movies, down slightly from March’s deficit of $28.7 billion. The U.S. has accumulated a record $5.5 trillion trade deficit in goods and services so far this year.

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