August Trade Deficit Hits $53.2 billion; China Trade Deficit Sets Another Monthly Record

Paola Masman

Paola Masman Media Director, Coalition for a Prosperous America

New trade data from the Department of Commerce shows that America’s trade deficit continues to rise, with the August seasonally-adjusted deficit of $53.2 billion rising 6 percent above the July figure and a staggering 20 percent worse than the August 2017 figure of $44.2 billion. On a year-to-date basis, the trade deficit is running at $391 billion, up 8.6% on the comparable period for 2017. 

The escalating trade deficit is driven by two main forces: US economic growth outpacing much of the rest of the world—which leads to more imports, and a rising dollar that makes US exports less competitive worldwide and enables imports to take an increased market share. 

Record new goods deficit with China

The monthly US trade deficit with China set an all-time record of $36.8 billion. Year-to-date, US exports to China are up 5 percent at $83.6 billion while imports from China are up 8 percent, continuing a familiar trend. There is some good news, however. While the year-to-date deficit with China is up 8.8 percent, America’s worldwide goods deficit is up 9.7 percent in that period. This indicates that China accounts for a slightly smaller portion of the overall goods deficit.  

China trade has been volatile this year, with many importers speeding up imports to beat the tariffs imposed by both countries. It’s likely that the deficit with China will shrink due to tariffs, which now apply to some $250 billion of US imports from China, about half of total US-China trade. 

“The growing US trade deficit points to two critical things,” said CEO of CPA Michael Stumo. “First, we must continue to limit and reduce Chinese imports until Beijing shows signs of changing their illegal and unethical trading practices. Second, we need to take action to reduce the value of the US dollar. It has risen 7 percent so far this year above an already overvalued level. This makes our industrial and agricultural goods less competitive on world markets.”

On a bilateral basis, America’s largest deficit after China was with Mexico at $8.7 billion, a 6 percent increase over August 2017. Bilateral deficits with both Canada and Mexico worsened in August and for the year as a whole—likely reflecting importers rushing to bring in products ahead of a new trade agreement that could make it harder or more expensive to import goods (especially those containing components made outside North America).

The US goods deficit with Japan came in at $6.0 billion, better than the 2017 August figure of $6.6 billion. However America’s deficit with Germany increased to $5.9 billion—7 percent worse than the 2017 figure. 

Auto and tech sectors show increasing deficits

America’s goods deficit year-to-date is $573.9 billion, 8.4 percent worse than the corresponding period a year ago. And where last year’s total goods deficit was $807 billion, the US appears headed toward an $875 billion goods deficit in 2018. The non-petroleum goods deficit is even worse—10 percent worse than a year ago. The US continues to be a net importer of petroleum products (at $43 billion so far this year), so the overall non-petroleum deficit will not be as large as the total, but the trend is not good. 

The US automotive deficit came in at $18.3 billion in August, worse than July’s $17.6 billion. The advanced technology products deficit came in at $12.4 billion, slightly better than July’s $13.2 billion. But for the year-to-date period, America’s advanced technology deficit of $80 billion is a staggering 33 percent worse than the year-ago period. As usual, that deficit is driven by technology products and trade with China.

“The large and growing trade deficit with certain large nations and in many key industrial sectors weakens our industrial base, costs us millions of jobs, and hurts our farmers,” said CPA Research Director Jeff Ferry. “The Trump administration is doing the right thing in working to fix our worldwide trading relationships, and I would add that it is winning growing support from industry and other political figures as more people realize how awful our trade position has been for the US economy—and see the shockingly unethical behavior of certain of our trading counterparties.”

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Reposted from Coalition for a Prosperous America

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Broad Support for Billionaire Tax

Union Matters

The Call for a General Strike

Richard Cucarese

Richard Cucarese Rapid Response Coordinator, USW Local 4889

It’s been only a few weeks since Labor pushed back against the longest, most punishing government shutdown in recent history, but sadly, over the jubilant cheers of victory, the ominous drumbeats of Congress warring in the trenches could be heard again, leaving 800,00 AFGE members pondering if they’ll be furloughed once more.

President Trump’s decided that the ‘Wall to Nowhere’ will be the hill to die on in this inane battle of attrition, government workers livelihoods be damned.  Keeping this in mind, the ominous question should be how much longer will it be before Trump and the entitled imperialists of D.C. realpolitik turn their sights towards millions of American workers, over 40% of whom, according to CBS News data, are one missed paycheck away from poverty?

As we suffer under the grim reality of decades long wage stagnation, no calls for a realistic minimum wage increase to keep the One Percent’s vulture bankers from our doors, nor a social program of Medicare For All, easing the burden of burgeoning medical costs overrunning the populous meager discretionary incomes, the powers that be seem more than willing to shutter government again, leaving scores unemployed, airport safety and security in perilous shape and costing the taxpayers $3 billion to do so.

And while Congress apparently shows no guilt spending an inconceivable $1.45 trillion dollars for 2018/19, to voluntarily spill blood in every conceivable corner of the globe promoting crony capitalism, strong armed acquisition of natural resources and the continuation of imperialistic follies, the long suffering American worker is left sifting through the rubble, limping through countless miles of crumbling infrastructure, closed factories, failing schools, bankrupting college loan payments, mass shootings and scores of broken dreams, leading to shortened life expectancy, drug overdoses and suicides.

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