The country’s trade deficit fell by 11.5% in November 2018 and stood at 49.3 billion dollars thanks to the slowdown in imports, the Commerce Department reported today.
The November deficit is the lowest in the last five months and occurs after five consecutive rises.
The data was driven by the decrease of 2.9% in imports, which reached 259.2 billion dollars; while exports registered a decrease of 0.6%, and remained at 209.900 million dollars.
With regard to the cumulative of the first 11 months of 2018, the deficit in international trade amounted to about 552,300 million dollars, above the 500,000 million recorded in the same period of 2017.
In that time, exports have grown by 7.3% while imports have grown by 7.9%.
November data suggest that “trade has made a small positive contribution to GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2018, but only as a result of imports stagnating,” said Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics.
The president, Donald Trump, has made the reduction of the trade deficit one of his main priorities, and for that he has renegotiated the old free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, in force since 1994, considering it a “disaster”.
The United States, Mexico and Canada signed on November 30 the so-called T-MEC, which has been presented as a huge triumph of its protectionist position in trade matters, although the congresses of the three countries must still ratify it.
Likewise, it is immersed in complex trade negotiations with China, whose imports have applied heavy tariffs as the objective of rebalancing a commercial relationship, in his opinion, “unfair”.
In November, the deficit with China was reduced by 2,800 million dollars, to 34,500 million.
The Trump government and the Chinese government held a meeting at the end of January to try to reduce trade tensions, which Trump described as positive.
“We are working to make clear to China that after years of attacks on our industry and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of jobs and American wealth has come to an end,” Trump said Tuesday in his speech on the state of the Union. before Congress.
In this regard, the president stressed that if a broad agreement is not reached, the promised 200-million-dollar tariff increases on Chinese imports will be applied on March 2.
A delegation from the country headed by Foreign Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to China next week.
However, Trump warned that there will be no comprehensive pact until he meets in person again with Chinese President Xi Jinping, an interview that is expected to occur before the end of February.
The economy of the Asian giant has begun to show signs of weakening and in 2018 it grew at an annual rate of 6.6%, the lowest rate since 1990.
By 2019, the deceleration is expected to continue and expand at a rate of 6.2%, according to the latest projections of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The trade report was published today after a delay of more than a month due to the partial closure of the Administration for five weeks at the beginning of the year due to the political blockade in Congress.
The following report, corresponding to December and the total accumulated in 2018, does not yet have a publication date due to the delay in the analysis of the data. (EFEUSA) .-