WASHINGTON -- As exports slumped , the U.S. trade deficit widened sharply in December, government data released Thursday showed.
The trade gap rose to $38.7 billion in December, a 12% increase from November's upwardly revised $34.6 billion level, the Commerce Department said.
Exports tumbled 1.8% in December, to $191.3 billion, and imports edged up 0.3%, to $230.0 billion.
However overall the deficit declined to $471.5 billion in 2012 from $534. 7 billion in 2012.
Commenting on the trade balance Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), pointed out that the trade deficit is more than a number. “It represents a shrinking middle class, fewer good job opportunities, and further proof that our economic policies—including a lack of enforcement of existing trade laws—contribute to outsourcing.”
Paul addressed the U.S. trade deficit with China noting that “even our emerging energy trade advantage can’t mask the damage done by our record trade deficit with China. Since 2009, the trade deficit with China has risen by 40%.”
Last year the U.S. trade deficit with China hit $318.4 billion.
The group has called for President Obama to keep his promise to hold China accountable. “The White House last month said President Obama would use his pen and his phone to make progress on economic issues,” states Paul. “He could start today by signing an order to designate China as a currency manipulator. Then, he could call the Chinese leadership to demand an end to that practice, and secure an agreement on a plan to cut this deficit in half over the next three years.”