Washington Post: Trump promised to shrink the trade deficit. Instead it exploded.

By David J. Lynch


March 6, 2019


The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history.


The trade gap with China also hit a record $419 billion, underscoring the stakes for the president’s bid to reach a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping as soon as this month.


The department’s final 2018 trade report, which was delayed by the government shutdown, showed that the U.S. bought far more in foreign goods than it sold to customers in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. The goods shortfall topped the 2006 record of $838.3 billion, set as the housing bubble was peaking, and marked the third consecutive year of rising deficits.


A broader measure of the nation’s trade performance, which includes the services sector, showed a narrower, but still large $621 billion deficit. That reflected a deterioration of more than $100 billion from the figure that Trump inherited from President Barack Obama.