President Donald Trump almost certainly failed in his mission to shrink the U.S. trade deficit last year.
The trade deficit surged in November to $50.5 billion, the highest monthly level in almost six years, Commerce Department data showed Friday. That brings the cumulative shortfall for last year to $514 billion, which surpasses the $505 billion gap in all of 2016. Trump has vowed to shrink the deficit, blaming the Obama administration for failing to get tough on nations that don’t trade fair. Yet to close the gap in his first year as president, Trump will need the December figures to show a surplus, a monthly feat that hasn’t happened in at least a quarter century.
Exports actually increased last year under Trump, who wants to lure more production to the U.S. But imports grew even faster, as consumers and companies stepped up spending. It’s a trend many economists expect to continue as the tax cuts passed by the Republican Congress take hold. The tax plan is expected to give the U.S. economy a short-term boost that may strengthen the dollar, making exports more expensive and widening Trump’s loathed trade deficit.