The U.S. goods trade deficit surged to a record high in 2018 as strong domestic demand fueled by lower taxes pulled in imports, despite the Trump administration’s “America First” policies, including tariffs, aimed at shrinking the trade gap.
President Donald Trump is pursuing a protectionist trade agenda to shield U.S. manufacturing from what he says is unfair foreign competition. Trump, who has dubbed himself “the tariff man,” pledged on both the campaign trail and as president to reduce the deficit by shutting out more unfairly traded imports and renegotiating free trade agreements.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that a 12.4 percent jump in the goods deficit in December had contributed to the record $891.3 billion goods trade shortfall last year. The overall trade deficit surged 12.5 percent to $621.0 billion in 2018, the largest since 2008.