(CN) – The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the gap between the number of goods the United States imports and exports fell 11.5 percent in November to the lowest level in five months.
The monthly trade deficit dropped from $55.7 billion in October to $49.3 billion the following month, according to the government’s report, due in large part to a $1.4 billion decrease in petroleum imports and a $2.3 billion drop in imports of cellphones and household goods.
It marks the smallest gap since last June after five straight months of increases. Economists had predicted a trade deficit of about $54 billion in November.
U.S. imports fell 2.9 percent to $259.2 billion, while exports dropped at a slower rate of 0.6 percent to $209.9 billion.
The closely watched deficit with China fell to $35.4 million, a 7.3 percent decrease from October.
Closing the trade gap has been a top priority for the Trump administration, which has levied tariffs against imports from China such as cars and cellphones, as well as steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
President Donald Trump has vowed since the 2016 campaign to lower the trade deficit, saying the gap is the result of bad trade deals by past administrations.
But despite the drop in November, the overall trade deficit for 2018 is still up 9 percent from the year before.
Wednesday’s report was delayed by the 35-day partial government shutdown.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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