US-China Trade Gap Is Widening Despite Trump’s Criticisms

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S.-China trade deficit is growing despite the president’s promises, according to newly-released Chinese customs data.

President Donald Trump has often pointed to the deficit as evidence of China’s unfair trading practices, however, his criticisms of China have failed to reduce the trade deficit, new data show.

The surplus recorded for the first 11 months of this year is already greater than the figure for all of last year, China’s General Administration of Customs revealed Friday, according to the South China Morning Post. The trade deficit for the time period from January to November, according to Chinese accounting, is $251.3 billion. Beijing reports that the trade gap for 2016 was $250.7 billion, but the U.S. reports last year’s trade deficit as $347 billion.

Louis Kuijs, an economist at Oxford Economics, estimates the trade deficit could rise to $370 billion this year, the Wall Street Journal reported in November.

Surges in imports of Chinese goods and services with relatively flat exports are behind the widening bilateral trade gap between China and the U.S. The U.S. has yet to release data for November, but the total U.S. trade deficit spiked 8.6 percent in October, Politico reported Tuesday, citing a Department of Commerce report.

Between September and October, according to the Commerce Department, the trade surplus rose in China’s favor from $29.9 billion to $31.9 billion. U.S. exports decreased while Chinese imports increased.

Trump has repeatedly used the U.S. trade deficit as a metric for the health of U.S. trade relationships abroad. The president has said many times he will lower the deficit and improve our global trade relations.

The total U.S. trade deficit for the year was at $462.9 billion as of the end of October, up 11.9 percent, and some observers suspect the trade deficit will eclipse the 2016 figure of $502.3 billion.

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