According to Market Watch, the U.S. trade deficit in 2017 surged to a level not seen since the financial crisis in 2008.
The deficit in December rose 5.3% to $53.1 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a $52.2 billion gap.
Imports increased 2.5% to a record $256.5 billion in December. Exports edged up 1.8% to $203.4 billion, also a new high water mark.
In 2017, the U.S. trade gap leaped 12.1% to a nine-year high of $566 billion.
Last year saw higher oil prices and a strengthening economy, both of which contributed to the widening trade deficit:
When Americans are more prosperous, they tend to buy more imported goods.
President Trump has promised to slash the trade deficit, and he’s taken a hard line with key trading partners such as Canada, Mexico and China, but it’s hard to see how he will succeed when so many presidents have failed. The last time the U.S. ran a surplus was in 1975.
Though the results of Trump administration trade policy remain to be seen - the president seeks to put tougher rules in place - it is likely that the trend will continue through 2018:
“Looking ahead, we expect the trade deficit to widen further in 2018,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. A strong economy is likely to encourage consumers to buy more imported goods, he said.