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US 2019 Goods-Trade Gap Shrinks for First Time in Three Years

Jan. 30, 2020
Preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the drop in imports in 2019 outpaced the decline in exports.

The U.S.’s annual deficit in merchandise trade narrowed in 2019 for the first time in three years, reflecting a trade-war-induced drop in imports but giving President Donald Trump evidence he’s delivered on pledges to reduce the gap.

The shortfall in trade in goods narrowed to $852.7 billion in 2019 on a non-seasonally adjusted basis as the drop in imports outpaced the decline in exports, according to unofficial calculations by Bloomberg based on preliminary U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday. The official numbers are expected to be released with the full trade report due Feb. 5, which will also include trade in services.

Trump is seeking to rebalance the nation’s trading and investment relationship with other countries. The U.S. earlier this month signed the first phase of a trade deal with China, which agreed to buy an additional $200 billion in American exports.

The Senate has approved his U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement -- which he is due to sign Wednesday -- and the White House is turning its attention to scrutinizing trade relationships across other nations and regions including the European Union, the U.K. and Africa.

Imports fell about $43 billion last year, more than double the $21 billion drop in exports, the Census figures showed.

By Ana Monteiro

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Licensed content from Bloomberg, copyright 2016.

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