US Trade Gap Narrows as Chinese Imports Drop

A shipping container is lifted off the back of a truck on Oct. 2, 2019, as others wait in line to have their cargo unloaded at a terminal on Harbor Island in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(CN) – The overall U.S. trade deficit dropped 7.6% in October to the lowest level in more than a year, narrowed in part by a decrease in imports from China.

The difference between the goods and services the United States sells and buys from other countries fell to $47.2 billion, the smallest gap since May 2018.

Overall imports dropped 1.7% to $254.3 billion while exports declined at a slower rate of 0.2% to $207.1 billion, according to a Commerce Department report released Thursday. The U.S. imported fewer cellphones, pharmaceuticals and automotive products in October and exported fewer aircraft engines and soybeans.

The politically sensitive goods deficit with China also ticked down about 1% to $27.8 billion in October. Imports from Beijing fell by 4.8% to $35.3 billion, while exports to the Asian nation slowed by 17% to about $7.5 billion.

The deficit in the trade of goods with Mexico also declined, down 1.4% to $8.8 billion.

President Donald Trump has made closing the trade gap with China a top priority, saying the deficit is the result of bad deals by past administrations.

The trade war with Beijing has raged on for nearly a year and a half, as the U.S. has imposed tariffs on a wide range of Chinese goods in addition to steel and aluminum from several countries.

The deficit with China is down 14.6% through the first 10 months of the year compared to the same time period last year. However, the overall trade gap with all countries is up to $520.1 billion so far this year, compared to $513 billion at this time last year.

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