US trade deficit with China rises, but slides versus Japan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 2:27am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 2:27am

The US goods trade deficit with China rose 12.8 per cent to US$31.3 billion while the deficit with Japan shrank 16.2 per cent in January from the previous month to $5.47 billion, partly due to a drop in imports of automobiles and auto parts, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Citing President Donald Trump’s call for “free and fair trade,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged efforts to reduce the US trade deficit with countries such as China, Japan, Germany and Mexico.

“President Trump has made free and fair trade a central part of his agenda, and correcting this imbalance is an important step in achieving that goal,” Ross said in a statement.

The US goods trade deficit with Germany contracted 8.0 per cent to US$4.88 billion, according to the department.

As of last year, China was the country with which the United States generated its largest trade deficit, accounting for about half the total. Japan came second and Germany third.

Globally, the US deficit in trade of goods and services widened 9.6 per cent in January from the previous month to US$48.49 billion for the first expansion in two months.

Exports rose 0.6 per cent to US$192.09 billion due partly to growth in exports of automobiles and petroleum products.

Imports climbed 2.3 per cent to US$240.59 billion, reflecting an increase in imports of cellphones and crude oil.

The average import price per barrel of crude oil stood at US$43.94 in January, up from US$41.45 in December.

The global trade figures are measured on a balance-of-payments basis after seasonal adjustment, and the country-by-country and regional breakdowns are based on unadjusted customs-cleared data.