Economy

US trade deficit widens to $67.1 billion in August, a 14-year high

Key Points
  • The U.S. trade deficit rose in August to the highest level in 14 years.
  • The gap between the goods and services the U.S. sells and what it buys abroad widened by 5.9% in August to $67.1 billion, the Commerce Department said.
  • The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China fell 6.7% to $26.4 billion.
Container ships sit parked at the Port of Oakland on September 18, 2020 in Oakland, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The U.S. trade deficit rose in August to the highest level in 14 years.

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the gap between the goods and services the United States sells and what it buys abroad climbed 5.9% in August to $67.1 billion.

The politically sensitive deficit in the trade of goods with China fell 6.7% to $26.4 billion.

So far this year, the United States has recorded a trade gap of $421.8 billion, up 5.7% from January-August 2019. Exports rose 2.2% to $171.9 billion, but imports rose more — up 3.2% to $239 billion.

President Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to bring down America's persistent trade deficits. He imposed taxes on imports of steel, aluminum and most products from China, among other things; and renegotiated a North American trade pact in an effort to encourage more production in the United States.

But the trade deficit won't yield easily to changes in trade policy. As the U.S. economy recovers from springtime shutdowns, Americans are buying more imported goods while foreign demand for U.S. products remains weak. And after a strict lockdown in February, China's factories got up and running faster than those in most places.