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US Commerce Department Reports $621 Billion Trade Deficit, Highest in 10 Years

© AP Photo / Richard DrewWall Street
Wall Street - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States' trade deficit reached a 10-year high of $621 billion in 2018, defying President Donald Trump's pledges to reduce the country's trade gap, the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

"For 2018, the goods and services deficit was $621.0 billion, up $68.8 billion from $552.3 billion in 2017," the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis said in a press release on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Trump Demands China Lift All Tariffs on US Agricultural Goods

The December trade gap jumped to $59.8 billion, which was also a 10-year high, according to media reports.

The US merchandise trade deficit increased by $83.8 billion, or 10.4 percent, to $891.3 billion in the past year, the Commerce Department said. According to the Washington Post, it is the largest merchandise trade deficit in the 243-year history of the United States.

In this Sept. 16, 2018, photo, American flags are displayed together with Chinese flags on top of a trishaw in Beijing. The American Chamber of Commerce in China says Beijing will dig its heels in after U.S. tariff hikes and appealed for a negotiated end to their trade battle - Sputnik International
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The US merchandise trade deficit with China, which is currently the focus of the Trump administration's trade policy, increased to $419.2 billion, the release said. Trump has made the goal of reducing the US trade deficit, particularly the gap with China, a central part of his economic policy.

China and the United States have been embroiled in a trade dispute since last June, when Trump announced that the United States would subject $50 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent tariffs in a bid to fix the US-Chinese trade deficit. Since then, the two countries have exchanged several rounds of tit-for-tat trade tariffs.

Trump announced in a Twitter post last month that he would delay another planned increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that was originally set for 1 March.

Prior to that, at the G20 summit in Argentina in December, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed upon a 90-day truce to allow room for a new trade agreement.

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