The US trade deficit jumped to a 10-year high in October, suggesting the tariffs imposed this year on allies and adversaries alike by US President Donald Trump to shrink the trade gap have so far been ineffective.
The US Commerce Department said on Thursday the monthly trade deficit increased 1.7 percent to $55.5 billion, the highest level since October 2008 and the fifth straight month it has increased.
Led by shipments of medicine and cars, overall imports rose 0.2 percent to a record $266.5 billion. Exports fell 0.1 percent to $211 billion.
The trade deficit with China, a politically sensitive issue in the US, surged 7.1 percent to a record $43.1 billion in October.
The United States, the world’s largest economy, is locked in a bitter trade war with China.
The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports to force concessions on a list of demands that would change the terms of trade between the world’s two largest economies.
China has responded with import tariffs on $110 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans.
Trump has long railed against China’s massive trade surplus with the United States, saying it has contributed to the decline of US manufacturing and loss of factory jobs.
On Saturday, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to halt imposing more tariffs for 90 days while they try to negotiate a deal to end the trade dispute.
The US trade deficit spiked in August to its highest level in six months.
In addition to the duties on Chinese goods, Washington has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the United States this year.
The huge trade gap, along with reports of weak housing and business spending on equipment, suggests US economic growth will slow down in the fourth quarter.